Celestyal Announces Suspension of Cruising Through End of 2020

Celestyal Crystal anchored in Greece courtesy Celestyal Cruises

Published Jul 2, 2020 2:15 PM by The Maritime Executive

Europe's reluctance to admit American travelers due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has significant implications for the European tourism market, including the Mediterranean cruise sector. Greek cruise operator Celestyal Cruises announced Tuesday that it will not be returning to cruising this year, citing continued restrictions on travel.

“We were optimistic that we would be able to resume our cruise operations later this summer,” said Celestyal chief commercial officer Leslie Peden in a statement. “However, given the prevailing uncertainty regarding travel restrictions through the balance of our operating season from our largest international source markets, coupled with the continuing discussions at the European Union level regarding the enhanced health protocols that will apply to EU cruise operations, we made the difficult but prudent decision to postpone resuming cruise operations until the scheduled start of our normal spring season next year.”

On March 13, Celestyal joined the global cruise shutdown, announcing that it was suspending all of its cruise operations until May 1. On April 10, it extended the shutdown until June 29th, citing the disease's continued spread. 

“We felt that as a company, we have already put our travel partners and guests through enough date changes on when cruising could return safely . . . By voluntarily pausing operations until our scheduled departures of next year, Celestyal will be better positioned to offer more clarity and certainty to our valued partners and guests, as well as peace of mind,” Peden said. “We will now shift our full attention to developing both 2021 and 2022 business where we are already seeing encouraging signs of pent-up demand."

The line's announcement came as the EU announced that it would be maintaining a ban on U.S. travelers until further notice due to the ongoing spike in coronavirus cases in the United States. Residents of 14 other nations - Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay - are allowed to travel to the EU effective July 1, but Americans will have to wait for the all-clear. The U.S. is a significant source market for Celestyal's Mediterranean cruise offerings (and for other cruise operators in the region).