For weeks, Cruzely has kept you informed of the tensions rising between the cruise industry and the CDC on a return to sailing from the United States. After months of no real progress, a report from Bloomberg says that the CDC could allow U.S. cruising to resume by the middle of summer.
This response comes after Carnival Cruise Line hinted today that it may be the latest to move cruises abroad to sail in response to the CDC’s continued suspension of sailing.
According to the Bloomberg article:
“CDC is committed to working with the cruise industry and seaport partners to resume cruising following the phased approach outlined in the conditional sailing order,” CDC spokeswoman Jade Fulce said in a response to questions about Carnival. “This goal aligns with the desire to resume passenger operations in the United States expressed by many major cruise ship operators and travelers; hopefully, by mid-summer with restricted revenue sailings.”
Whether there is actual follow-through from the agency remains to be seen. One area of contention is that the CDC statement specifically mentions a return to sailing that follows the current Conditional Sail Order, but doesn’t lift it completely.
The cruise industry has called for a lifting of the CDC’s Conditional Sail Order, which currently has sailings on hold. This framework provides a number of steps to return to sailing. It includes requirements for testing crew, agreements between cruise lines, ports, and healthcare entities, test cruises for new protocols, and applying for a Conditional Sailing Certificate before taking on passengers.
Instructions from the CDC regarding the framework have been slow to be released. Meanwhile, cruise groups claim that the framework is already outdated given that it was released in October 2020, before any vaccines were available. Now more than 100 million Americans have at least one dose and millions more doses are given each day.
In the meantime, cruise lines have started to return to sailing in other spots around the world, including Europe and Asia. Most recently, multiple lines have announced fully vaccinated sailings departing Caribbean ports — including Nassau and Montego Bay, Jamaica — instead of U.S. ports.
Today, Carnival — among America’s most popular lines — said that while it doesn’t plan to have departures outside the United States right now, it “may have no choice but to do so” to get back to sailing.
Cruise lines believe they can sail safely without all the steps put in place by the CDC. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) says that approximately 400,000 passengers have sailed in other parts of the world under new protocols, with only about 50 cases. At the same time, they argue, sporting events, air travel, casinos, and theme parks are all allowed, but cruises are not.
The industry has already committed to new safety procedures worldwide. More lines continue to announce they will sail trips with vaccinated passengers and crew only, along with universal testing, limited capacity, and enhanced cleaning and ventilation as part of their new policies to keep passengers healthy.