After countless stops and departures for the US cruise industry over the past 14 months, the ultimate light at the end of the tunnel seems to be on the horizon.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told cruise lines on Wednesday, according to a report by USA Today and Reuters, that they could start sailing again in July.
The CDC will reportedly allow cruise lines to resume passenger travel in July if they fully comply with the Conditional Shipping Order (CSO).
That order will now allow cruise lines to skip mock test trips if 98% of crew members and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated, it also required cruise lines to submit Phase 2A port agreements « as soon as possible »to meet that month of July. objective. The CDC also promised to respond to requests from cruise lines for simulated trips within 5 days instead of the previous 60.
“We recognize that sailing will never be a zero-risk activity,” said Aimee Treffiletti, chief of the CDC’s Maritime Unit for COVID-19 response, in a letter to cruise lines this week according to USA Today.
While many cruise lines have announced plans to restart outside of US ports, and many are already sailing, Thursday’s news marks the beginning of the end of a significant period of uncertainty for the industry.
In a statement Thursday, Royal Caribbean Group CEO Richard Fain applauded the news, mentioning that the CDC schedule could even spell hope for this year’s Alaska season.
“Last night, the CDC notified us about some clarifications and extensions to their Conditional Shipping Order, which addressed the uncertainties and concerns that we had raised,” Fain said.
‘They have dealt with many of these elements in a constructive way that takes into account recent advances in vaccines and medical science. Although this is only one part of a very complex process, it encourages us that we now see a path to a healthy and achievable life. back to duty, hopefully in time for the Alaska season.
While the CDC had previously held firm on a November reboot for the industry, the July period was mentioned not only by several cruise line executives but also by US senators who also wanted the ships to sail. In early April, three U.S. senators, Marco Rubio (R-FL), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Rick Scott (R-FL), introduced a new bill that would repeal the Center for the Control and Prevention of Diseases (CDC) Current conditional sailing order on cruise ships and allowing cruise lines to begin sailing outside of US ports
The law, called the Careful Resumption Under Enhanced Safety Enhancements Act (CRUISE), would have required CDC to provide COVID-19 mitigation guidance for cruise lines to resume safe domestic operations by July 4. It was the third bill introduced in the last year. intended to help the cruise industry regain normal operations. Two other bills, including one aimed at allowing ships to sail to Alaska without having to stop in Canada, failed.
The three senators, along with Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), who leads supplemental legislation in the United States House of Representatives, come from states that have cruise port centers and are the most negatively affected by the cruise ban.