The future start dates of cruising in America – and Australia – may hang on what the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decides in the next few hours.

Cruise industry leaders and President Donald Trump’s aides are believed to be locked in talks in a last-ditch bid to persuade the CDC not to extend its cruise ban, which runs out on October 31. Given the current state of the pandemic in the US and Europe, they could face an uphill battle.

Earlier, the White House forced the CDC to extend for only a month. At stake is the state of Florida in a tight election. Miami is the centre for cruise, and has 49,000 jobs related to the cruise industry.

Australia is hoping a template for the restart of cruising will come from the US meetings, which will allow the industry here to start talks with the Federal Government on how ships can sail again in our region.

Today, Royal Caribbean announced a $1.3 billion third quarter loss – and said they were sure a pathway to resuming cruising was being discussed.

But at present the CDC, which earlier this week issued another health warning and originally wanted to ban cruising until February, 2021, seems implacable.

Some cruise lines have extended their cancellations due to the uncertainty over the CDC, international travel and long-distance air travel.

Princess Cruises has extended its pause in operations for cruises sailing from Australia and New Zealand to May 31, 2021.

Cruise Lines International Association is running a campaign to pressure governments around Australia to consider resuming cruising to save jobs and help the economy.

Coral Expeditions resumed sailing last week with the 72-passenger cruise ship the Coral Discoverer.

Coral Expeditions in the Great Barrier Reef
Coral Expeditions in the Great Barrier Reef

Last week, the CDC renewed its warnings against cruise ship travel, while there is no official word as of yet on the status of the no sail order.

Leaders from the “Big Four” cruise companies had been optimistic.

“We are optimistic that we’ll be in a position as an industry, in collaboration with CDC … in collaboration with the [Trump] Administration to resume cruising sometime this year, but we have to work that out,” said Arnold Donald, president and CEO, Carnival Corporation (CCL).

Asked to say how he rates the chances, he replied: “On a scale of 1 to 5, I’ll say a 4.9 in terms of optimism.”

It takes 60 days minimum to get a ship back into service.