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Norwegian Cruise Line Plans August Return to U.S. Sailing

Norwegian says it plans to return to U.S. cruising with Alaska cruises from Seattle beginning August 7.
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Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings  (NCLH)  said it plans to return to U.S. sailings in August after the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown brought the industry to a halt over a year ago.

Shares of the Miami company were up 4.6% to $30.03 at last check.

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Norwegian said it plans to return to U.S. cruising with Alaska cruises on Norwegian Bliss sailing from Seattle beginning August 7.

The restart is contingent on obtaining a Conditional Sailing Certificate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which Norwegian said it expects to be granted in the coming days.

Passengers and crew members will be required to be fully vaccinated. 

The CDC has said that cruise ships can only return if confirm 95% of passengers and 98% of crew are vaccinated, or go through an approval process with no-revenue trial sailings for each ship.

"We are thrilled to reach the next milestone in our Great Cruise Comeback with the expected resumption of cruising in the U.S. starting in Alaska, one of our guests’ most popular destinations," Frank Del Rio, president and CEO said in a statement. 

The U.S. Congress recently passed a bill waiving the U.S. law that normally requires foreign flag cruises sailing between Washington and Alaska to stop in Canada.

In April, Norwegian announced its phased cruise resumption for voyages embarking outside of the U.S.

Last week, rival companies Carnival  (CCL)  and Royal Caribbean  (RCL)  said they planned to return to sailing in the United States, starting in July. 

The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on the cruise ship industry as outbreaks spread quickly aboard vessels, resulting in infections and deaths among passengers and crew. 

The Cruise Line International Association said up 2,500 jobs are lost each days cruises are not operating.

Earlier this month, Norwegian posted a wider-than-expected first-quarter loss and warned that it would continue to post losses until it is able to resume voyages.

In April, the company had proposed a plan to resume operations on July 4 with mandatory vaccination requirements for both crew and passengers. Norwegian later said the time needed to prepare its ships after receiving approval from the CDC could delay the restart.

Credit Suisse upgraded the company recently to outperform from neutral.