The two largest US cruise combines will not sail again until the new year at the earliest.

The North American brands of Carnival Corporation and those of rival Royal Caribbean Group confirmed an extension of sailings until December 31 – joining Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which confirmed an extension of its suspension of cruises across its three brands until the end of 2020.

The latest pause affects Carnival Cruise Line, Cunard North America, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Seabourn together with RCG lines Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea.

Global ocean cruising has already been shut down since March due to the Covid-19 pandemic with many lines already cancelling cruises well into 2021.

The US last week cleared the way for cruise ship to resume sailing in American waters from November 1, but have yet to confirm when paying passengers will be allowed on board.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ‘Framework for Conditional Sailing Order’ will see cruise lines operate itineraries with no passengers on board to demonstrate the effectiveness of Covid-19 prevention measures and compliance with CDC measures.

Carnival Corporation chief executive Arnold Donald, confirming the extension of the pause in operations of its North American brands from December 1 until December 31, said: “Our highest responsibility and top priorities are always compliance, protecting the environment, and the health, safety and well-being of our guests, the people in communities we touch, our crew and shoreside employees.

“We continue to work with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and global government and public health authorities, as well as top medical and science experts around the globe, on a comprehensive plan for the eventual restart of cruising in North America.

“With their collective guidance, we have developed and continue to update our enhanced health and safety protocols that are in the best interest of our guests, crew and overall public health.

“Whenever we restart our cruise operations in the US, we certainly look forward to welcoming our guests on board.”

The date for restarting cruise operations will be communicated by each respective brand and available on their websites, Carnival Corporation said.

“The company and its brands are also notifying crew members, travel professionals and other stakeholders,” the group added.

RCG said: “Our primary goal continues to be a healthy return to service for our guests, crew and the communities we visit.

“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 December 31, 2020, excluding sailings from Singapore.

“Celebrity Cruises has already suspended their full 2020-21 winter programme in Australia and Asia.

“Additionally, Azamara has suspended their 2020-21 winter sailings throughout Australia and New Zealand, South Africa and South America.

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

Welcoming the CDC’s pathway for return to service announced on Friday, RCG said: “While we are eager to welcome our guests back on board, we have a lot to do between now and then, and we’re committed to taking the time to do things right.

“This includes training our crew in new health and safety protocols and conducting a number of trial sailings to stress-test those protocols in real-world conditions.”