Royal Caribbean Cruises said in a statement, it has made the decision to extend the suspension of its cruises globally, as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, announcing at the same time that it aims to return to service May 12.
“We are working with our guests to address this disruption to their vacations, and we are genuinely sorry for their inconvenience,” the statement read.
“We are also working with our crew to sort out the issues this decision presents for them.”
Cruise lines suspended operations because of the viral threat two weeks ago, and hoped to resume operations April 11.
But the threat of COVID-19 across the world, and particularly in the United States, seems to be unyielding, and the company has extended its cruise resumption date to more than a month from its original target.
The $150 billion cruise industry has been one of the hardest hit in the midst of the COVID-19 threat.
The decision to halt cruises until the COVID-19 threat was under control, began a downward economic spiral for Bahamian business owners who relied heavily on thousands of cruise passengers daily for their livelihoods. And the once-bustling tourist town that was downtown Nassau is now no more.
Only one day before Royal Caribbean made the decision to suspend operations, the company’s Vice President of Government Relations Russell Benford said bookings for cruises had remained robust up to that point.
“We really saw lower than expected rescheduling of cruises in the Caribbean,” Benford said.
It was hoped that the cruise segment of The Bahamas’ tourism product would have returned sooner, to lessen the economic blow.
Royal Caribbean said in its release that other destinations could return later than May.
“Because of announced port closures, we expect to return to service for Alaska, Canada and New England sailings July 1, 2020,” the company’s statement read.