While nothing has been officially announced, a report from news organization Axios claims that the “No Sail Order” on cruise ships will be extended another month, from the current expiration of September 30 to October 31.
This comes despite the CDC’s director reportedly wanting to extend the order into 2021.
“Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was overruled when he pushed to extend a “no-sail order” on passenger cruises into next year, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the conversation today in the White House Situation Room,” the report said.
“Instead of following Redfield’s desire — which a number of White House officials have argued is unreasonable — the Trump administration plans to extend the no-sail order for cruise ships until October 31.”
If this scoop is accurate, then it could mark a potential return to sailing for cruise ships before the end of this year.
Cruise lines voluntarily suspended their trips back in March at the beginning of the pandemic. Since then, the lines themselves have extended their suspensions several times, with the current order in place until the end of October.
At the same time, the CDC issued its own “No Sail Order.” It went in place in mid-March and was originally for thirty days. Since then, there have been multiple extensions as the pandemic has continued to spread worldwide. The current order expires at the end of this month, and there has been anticipation of an update coming any day.
Cruise lines have faced plenty of scrutiny during the health crisis, with several thousand cases tied to ships and reports of dozens of deaths. That said, the cruise suspension has seemingly kept the number low in comparison to the global pandemic numbers. For instance, there have been about 34 million COVID cases around the world.
And while the CDC has criticized cruise lines for some of their actions during the pandemic, the lines are taking strong steps to return to sailing safely.
A joint “Healthy Sail Panel” from Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines recently released a 74-point plan on how to return to sailing safely. Among the recommendations are greater social distancing, facemasks for passengers and crew, and improved ventilation and air filtration.
Cruise ships have also returned to sailing in limited capacity in some European countries, including Italy and Greece.
Even so, COVID continues to be a crisis. In the United States alone, an average of 45,000 new cases and 750 deaths are being reported each day. But there is a definite trend toward lifting restrictions put in place to combat the crisis.
According to the Axios article, cruise line officials are set to meet with the Trump Administration on Friday, after which an official decision is said to be made.
If cruises were to return in November, it would mark seven-and-a-half months that sailing has stopped.