Cruise line members of Cruise Lines International Association (Clia) have agreed to voluntarily suspend US cruise operations until at least October 31, 2020.

Last month, Clia members had said they would voluntarily suspend cruises up until the end of September – and extension from the previous return date of mid-September.

It did not rule out either extending the suspension further or bringing the return date forward.

The association issued a statement on behalf of its members, which said: “Despite the valuable alignment between CLIA’s previous voluntary suspension to September 15 and the US Center for Disease Control (CDC’s) current No-Sail Order date of September 30, we believe it is prudent at this time to voluntarily extend the suspension of US ocean-going cruise operations to October 31.

“This is a difficult decision as we recognise the crushing impact that this pandemic has had on our community and every other industry. However, we believe this proactive action further demonstrates the cruise industry’s commitment to public health and willingness to voluntarily suspend operations in the interest of public health and safety, as has occurred twice prior.

“Clia cruise line members will continue to monitor the situation with the understanding that we will revisit a possible further extension on or before September 30, 2020. At the same time, should conditions in the US change and it becomes possible to consider short, modified sailings, we would consider an earlier restart.”

Royal Caribbean Group, a Clia member behind the Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara brands, said: “The health and safety of our guests, crew, and the communities we visit is our top priority.

“As we work with the CDC and others toward this shared goal, Royal Caribbean Group will be extending the suspension of sailings to include those departing on or before October 31, 2020, excluding sailings from China and Australia.

“We will be reaching out to our guests and travel partners to share further details and address any questions or concerns they may have.”

Clia’s most recent Economic Impact Study found that cruise activity in the United States supports about 421,000 American jobs and generates $53 billion annually.

Each day of the suspension of US cruise operations results in a loss of up to $110 million in economic activity and 800 direct and indirect American jobs, Clia said, adding that “the impact of the suspension is particularly profound in states that depend heavily on cruise tourism”, including Florida, Texas, Alaska, Washington, New York and California.