Royal Caribbean will suspend all cruises passing through the United States for at least 30 days as the country declares a national emergency over the novel coronavirus pandemic, the company announced on Friday.
“Cruises that depart US ports before midnight tonight and international cruises will operate their scheduled itineraries,” the company tells The Verge. “US ships already at sea will finish their itineraries as planned.”
The company joins Carnival Corporation in scaling back operations in order to try to slow the spread of the virus. Carnival announced on Thursday that it was shutting down its Princess Cruises line for two months after two of its ships became hotbeds for the novel coronavirus, leading to at least eight deaths and hundreds of cases. Norwegian Cruise Line has not announced any suspensions, and some of its sales managers were recently found to have been pushing coronavirus misinformation in order to convince customers to book upcoming cruises. Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian collectively make up about around 70 percent of the global cruise market.
“We are reaching out to our guests to help them work through this disruption to their vacations, and we are truly sorry for their inconvenience,” the company wrote in a statement. “We are also communicating with our crew to work out the issues this decision presents for them. We know this adds great stress to our guests, employees and crew, and we are working to minimize the disruption.”
Cruise ships, much like airlines, have seen a drop in demand since the novel coronavirus outbreak grew into a pandemic in recent weeks. The Trump administration has even considered offering assistance to the industry, though it’s not clear what that action would look like. “We’re with them all the way, it’s a great business, and it’s a great US business, frankly,” President Trump said during a press conference on Friday. “It’s an industry that has been very badly impacted.”