Norwegian suspends Alaska cruises over coronavirus, potentially ending the season

September, October cruises canceled because of COVID-19

Norwegian Cruise Line has suspended the remainder of its Alaska sail dates due to the coronavirus pandemic, which puts a complete stop to the Alaskan cruise season because other major cruise lines have backed out too.

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“Your safety is our #1 priority—both on and off our ships,” the company wrote in a statement issued on Tuesday. “Due to the current global environment, we are extending the suspension of 2020 cruises to include: All sailings through September… The select October sailings listed below”

The Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Joy are the two Alaska-bound ships that have been affected, which were scheduled to set sail on Oct. 4 and Oct. 12 and Oct. 4, respectively.  The Canada-New England-bound Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Gem have also been suspended for the month of October.

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Norwegian Cruise Line did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Competitors such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line and other mainstream cruise lines have suspended sailings in Arctic waters to fall in line with the CDC’s No Sail Order, which is in effect until July 24; as well as Canada’s large cruise and ferry ban, which is in effect until Oct. 31 for vessels carrying more than 100 people, according to CTV News.

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Typically, Alaska greets around 1.4 million cruisers per year, according to the Cruise Lines International Association Alaska. However, with the pandemic contributing to suspended sailings, CLIAA’s Government Affairs Consultant Mike Tibbles said more than 800,000 passengers will likely end up not visiting Alaska in an April interview with Alaska Public Media.

The potential loss of millions of dollars from pandemic-related tourism decline was characterized as a “blow” to coastal communities that cater to cruise visitors.

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For Norwegian customers who have been impacted by the cruise suspension but would like to visit Alaska or their original destination, an automatic cruise fare refund will be issued in the form of a “Future Cruise Credit” for 125 percent of the amount paid to date on June 25.

The credit must be used one year from the date it was issued and can be applied to any Norwegian Cruise Line trip through 2022.

Customers who would prefer to get a cash refund will be instructed to receive “a lesser refund” equal to the amount paid to date, according to Norwegian’s suspension statement. The company will share a Refund Request Form on July 6.

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Refund submissions must be entered no later than July 17.