Celestyal Cruises has extended its sailing suspension into next year, saying it will restart operations again in March 2021.
"As the core of our season runs from spring through autumn, we were optimistic that we would be able to resume our cruise operations later this summer," Leslie Peden, chief commercial officer for Celestyal Cruises said in a statement to USA TODAY.
However, it was forced to scrap the rest of the 2020 sailing season due to uncertainty over travel restrictions and discussions in the European Union about health protocols for cruises within its jurisdiction. Ultimately, Celestyal decided to postpone until next year when the normal spring season will resume, Peden said.
"We will now shift our full attention to developing both 2021 and 2022 business where we are seeing encouraging signs of pent-up demand and be well prepared to implement all enhanced health protocols that will ultimately be established by the EU and the countries where we operate," he added.
The Celestyal Crystal will be the first of its two vessels to return to sea when it embarks on the first of its seven-night "Three Continents" itinerary on March 6. The other ship, Celestyal Olympia will follow on March 15 when it sets out on its four-night "Iconic Aegean" route.
The Greece-based cruise line had previously extended its sailing suspension until the end of July. Currently scheduled sailings between Aug. 1 and Jan. 2 will also be impacted by the new suspension. But because the cruise line was already planning to service the ships between Jan. 2 and March 6, no other sailings will be affected, Celestyal spokesperson Frosso Zaroulea said.
Another Celesyal spokesperson, Charles Mardiks told USA TODAY that passengers booked on the canceled sailings will receive a future cruise credit valued at 120% of the original booking value.
"Guests will have until the end of December 2021 to redeem their Future Cruise Credit against any of Celestyal Cruises’ itineraries through end of December 2022," he said. "To provide additional peace of mind, should guests choose not to redeem their FCC by end of December 2021, they will automatically receive a full refund equal to the original amount paid to Celestyal upon the voucher’s expiration."
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"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," Peden said. "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."
Tuesday's decision by the EU to bar U.S. travelers – who make up a large percentage of Celestyal's client base – form entering member countries when the bloc reopens July 1 also played a role, Charles Mardiks, another Celestyal spokesperson said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Celestyal Cruises won't sail again until March 2021