Changes in Oregon’s coronavirus restrictions have forced American Cruise Lines (ACL) to postpone what would have been the first resumption of cruises by a U.S. overnight passenger ship after the shutdown.

The state notified ACL that overnight operations would not be allowed until at least the lifting of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) no-sail order at the end of July.

ACL had been scheduled to restart journeys on the Columbia and Snake rivers June 20 with the American Song. In a letter about its new policy dated June 19 the state apologized “for any confusion or miscommunication that may have occurred.”

“The dynamics of passengers and crew intermingling in a semi-close setting are particularly conducive to high coronavirus transmission rates often witnessed on cruise ships,” the letter said. “It is, therefore, imperative that the cruise ship ban be maintained for the foreseeable future.”

The state said it realized the CDC’s order applies to vessels with passenger and crew totals of 250 or more and that ACL is under the limit. Nevertheless, “we find the timeline appropriate for a review of operations.”

“We were surprised and disappointed by the last minute changes, but understand the difficulty leaders face in that state,” the Guilford, Conn.-based company said in a statement. “We hope to participate in reviving the state’s economy, and still believe we are uniquely positioned to do so. We will continue to do our best to support all our local partners throughout the region and look forward to resuming small ship cruising in the Pacific Northwest in the very near future.”

ACL said it will still be the first line in the U.S. to restart cruises on July 12 on the American Harmony from Memphis, Tenn., to New Orleans. Cruises are expected to start in New England on July 22 and Alaska July 23. The company said its ships are sailing at 75% of capacity.



Dale DuPont has been a correspondent for WorkBoat since 1998. She has worked at daily and weekly newspapers in Texas, Maryland, and most recently as a business writer and editor at The Miami Herald, covering the cruise, marine and other industries. She and her husband once owned a weekly newspaper in Cooperstown, N.Y., across the alley from the Baseball Hall of Fame. A South Florida resident, she enjoys sailing on Biscayne Bay, except in hurricane season.