SEATTLE (AP) — A Seattle-based cruise line has sold four ships in its fleet as the coronavirus pandemic has halted operations and subsequently slowed businesses that rely on incoming traffic from the industry.
Holland America Line made the announcement after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday extended a ban on cruises in U.S. waters until the end of September to limit the spread of COVID-19, KING-TV reported.
Holland America is selling the Amsterdam, Maasdam, Rotterdam and Veendam, which reduces its fleet to 10, the company said. All cruises booked on the ships will be canceled or changed.
Seattle anticipated a record 1.2 million visitors this year, but the pandemic left countries questioning the safety of allowing potentially contagious passengers to disembark.
“Compared to last summer, it was crowds of people walking through shoulder to shoulder, now it’s not that at all," said Ngozi Archbold, working at the Pappardelle’s pasta stand in Pike Place Market. “Just like two to three people walking in groups.”
Shops and restaurants, like Pappardelle's pasta stand, have struggled since businesses have relied on tourists for income.
“Back in March, our city and industry could not have imagined how long the COVID pandemic would affect travel globally,” Visit Seattle CEO Tom Norwalk said. “It is now apparent that recovery will take years. For Seattle, losing the cruise industry for this year adds to the anxiety of our industry and the many small businesses that were hoping for at least a partial cruise season.”
The cruise industry brings in $900 million annually and each vessel brings with it $4.2 million in regional economic activity, the Port of Seattle said.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.