Disney Cruise Line extends suspension over COVID-19 pandemic

Disney Cruise Line announced another extension of its cruise suspension on Wednesday as it works to meet government requirements to begin carrying passengers again.

The cruise line canceled all sailings through March, including planned voyages of the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.

Some voyages longer than seven nights that had been planned for the Disney Wonder and Disney Fantasy in June and July have also been canceled.

"Our team at Disney Cruise Line remains focused on the health and well-being of our guests and team members," the company said in its announcement. "We are carefully preparing for a return to service following the guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

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Guests who had already paid in full for the canceled cruises will be able to choose a full refund or a credit for a future trip. Guests who were booked on the canceled cruises but had not fully paid will be automatically refunded. Disney said it would email affected guests.

Disney has added new options for travelers to change their trip dates or receive refunds in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which halted all U.S. cruises for months last year. The company has relaxed cancellation fees for cruises through July, and guests can change their sail date until 15 days before departure for trips booked by Jan. 31. Any guests with health concerns related to the coronavirus can also receive a full refund without any fees.

The CDC issued a conditional sailing order last fall that does allow cruise ships to resume service in U.S. waters, but cruise lines need to first demonstrate that they can operate with health safety protocols in place that will protect passengers and crew from COVID-19.

Still, the CDC rates cruise ship travel as having a "very high level of COVID-19" risk. The health agency is recommending that people avoid it, and anyone who does travel on a cruise ship should get tested for COVID-19 between three and five days after their trip and isolate at home for a week after traveling, even if they test negative.

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Of course, Disney isn’t the only cruise line to extend cancellations. Carnival has also called off U.S. cruises through the end of March, and Royal Caribbean extended its suspension this week through April.

Disney said that enhanced safety measures will be in place when its ships return to service.

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