Norwegian Cruise Line needs to get permission from the CDC to resume cruising in the United States by June or July, in order to have its full fleet back in service by the beginning of 2022.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO and President Frank Del Rio said during the company’s earnings call that there was a 90-day window to resume US cruise services, with the company needing permission from the CDC by July at the latest in order to be at full capacity by 2022.
This is because the cruise company will need at least three months to get its first ship back to sea after receiving permission from the CDC, and will then likely only be able to add one ship into service per week.
Del Rio’s comments came just days after Norwegian Cruise Line announced that it was suspending cruise services through May 31st, 2021 – joining several other cruise lines that have recently suspended operations further amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The CDC in October dropped its No Sail Order for cruise ships operating to or from US ports, announcing instead a Conditional Sailing Order that would see every ship individually assessed for compliance with anti-COVID-19 measures.
Cruise lines indicated at the time that it would likely take several months to bring their fleets into compliance, and now, with case numbers in the US remaining stubbornly high, and growing talk of passengers potentially requiring vaccination before sailing, all US cruises remain suspended.
The conditional sail order has also been more difficult than the industry expected, according to Del Rio.
“The prevalence of the disease will be best indicator when we can being cruising,” Del Rio noted. “And we are seeing a significant drop in cases and more vaccinations which point to the prevalence dropping.”
When Norwegian Cruise Line does eventually resume cruises, Del Rio said its ships would likely sail with 50% occupancy
He added that the bookings for 2022 were very encouraging with his three brands, Norwegian, Oceania and Regent 40 percent booked at this time, which is better than any previous years, with pricing in line with 2019.