After pressure building between the cruise industry, political leaders and the CDC to resume sailing, it now looks like there could be some progress.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava posted a statement to her Twitter account saying that the CDC — which has been criticized for not providing updated guidance on a return to cruising — will issue new guidelines shortly.
I was very encouraged by my call today with @CDCgov, & excited to learn they will be issuing new guidelines for a safe restart to cruising. Miami-Dade is ready to partner with the CDC to make sure the Cruise Capital of the World can lead the way to rebuild this critical industry. pic.twitter.com/fOhnayqXzq
— Daniella Levine Cava (@MayorDaniella) April 1, 2021
Speaking about a call with the CDC Director and other officials at the agency, Mayor Cava said she was “encouraged” by the meeting and was eager to work with the CDC to get back to sailing.
“We are excited that the CDC will shortly be issuing new guidelines for a restart to cruising, taking into consideration the advancements made possible by the vaccine, and we are eager to work with the CDC and cruise industry as a positive partner and resource,” the mayor said.
In the past couple of weeks, the cruise industry has become more vocal in its desire to get back to cruising from the United States.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) recently issued a statement calling for a return to sailing in July. In that press release, the group also stated that the CDC has not released any guidance on its framework to return to cruising that was first issued in October 2020.
“Cruising is the only sector of the U.S. economy that remains prohibited, even as most others have opened or continued to operate throughout the pandemic,” the statement said.
Since then, Florida’s Governor and Attorney General held a meeting with top cruise executives at Port Canaveral to pressure for a return to sailing. Even lawmakers such as Senator Rick Scott and other officials have written the White House to get more clarity as to why cruises can’t sail.
At the same time, the cruise industry has seemingly taken the situation into their own hands, electing to sail from locations outside of the United States. Royal Caribbean, for example, has scheduled sailings from Bermuda and The Bahamas this summer.
So far, cruises that have returned seem to be relatively safe according to data from the cruise industry. Royal Caribbean Group CEO Richard Fain said his company has sailed with roughly 100,000 passengers and seen about 10 cases. CLIA puts the industry figure at about 50 cases based on public reports with nearly 400,000 passengers sailing.
Based on those figures, that’s a roughly 0.01% infection rate thanks to new protocols such as testing before sailing. It’s important to note that these figures are also before vaccines were made widely available and required on some cruises.
Whether or not new guidelines come from the CDC soon, it may be getting late to save all of the cruise industry’s normally busy summer season. Cruise lines say they need 60-90 days to get a ship ready to sail. Even if given the green light to sail today, that could mean some ships wouldn’t be ready to take on passengers until July.