According to an article from CNBC, CEOs of Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Group, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. met virtually with the CDC and the White House’s COVID team to discuss their desire to resume sailing.
This meeting, which took place on Monday, was reported to be “encouraging.” A source told CNBC that the cruise lines argued that by sailing fully-vaccinated trips and requiring negative COVID tests for all passengers and crew, cruises could resume safely.
In a statement, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said, “For the first time, industry leaders were able to highlight the unique ability of the cruise community to implement and closely manage health protocols that include rigorous screening, testing, prevention, detection, surveillance, and response procedures in a highly controlled environment across the entire cruise experience.”
Any progress in the return to sailing would be welcome news for the cruise lines and eager passengers. After more than a year of no sailings from the United States, there are still no concrete details on when cruises may return.
In the past several weeks the cruise industry and its allies have stepped up pressure on the CDC and Biden Administration, calling for a return to sailing and more clarity on the process. This includes letters from the CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., Frank Del Rio, to the government asking for a return by July 4th, as well as sharp rebukes from industry leaders about the current CDC framework to return.
Most recently, the state of Florida has filed suit to allow cruising to resume.
In the meantime, cruise lines are not standing still. Cruises in Europe and Asia continue to open up. Royal Caribbean, for example, will sail cruises from Israel starting in May.
Cruise lines are also attempting to restart closer to home. Both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have announced fully-vaccinated sailings from Caribbean ports such as Nassau and Montego Bay. Carnival — among the largest and most popular cruise lines in the United States — has not announced foreign homeports, but did say they may have to look into the possibility should the suspension continue.
Whether or not this latest meeting between cruise lines and the government makes headway, time is running tight for any potential return of U.S. cruises by this summer. Cruise lines have said it takes 60-90 days to ready a ship. Ninety days from now would put a return in mid-July — halfway through the summer season.