The cruise industry remains shuttered due to the pandemic.
The Disney Cruise Line has canceled select sailings through October, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has filed a lawsuit against the CDC’s restrictions, urging the industry to restart. Amidst all of this, though, the CDC’s latest announcement could mean cruises can return sooner than expected.
According to USA Today, the CDC has stated that cruises could resume as early as mid-July in American waters. This timeline assumes compliance with the CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, which outlines guidelines to ensure the health of all crew and passengers. The order requires routine testing, a vaccination plan, simulated test voyages, and daily reporting of COVID cases.
In addition to the framework already in place, the CDC has outlined 5 “clarifications” to its April 2nd guidance. These are as follows:
- Ships can skip simulated test voyages if 98% of the crew and 95% of the passengers are fully vaccinated.
- Cruise lines’ applications for simulated test voyages will be reviewed within 5 days, instead of 60.
- Testing and quarantine requirements will be altered for vaccinated passengers and crew.
- Cruise ship operators may enter into a “multi-port agreement,” as long as all port and local authorities sign that agreement.
- More clarification has been provided on quarantine guidelines for passengers exposed to COVID-19 while on the cruise. Those passengers can drive home, or they can quarantine in a hotel.
In the CDC’s letter, Aimee Treffiletti, head of the Maritime Unit for CDC’s COVID-19 response within its Global Mitigation Task Force for COVID-19, said, “We acknowledge that cruising will never be a zero-risk activity and that the goal of the CSO’s phased approach is to resume passenger operations in a way that mitigates the risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard cruise ships and across port communities.” The Framework for Conditional Sailing Order is one of the primary means of minimizing that risk.
As we mentioned, cruise lines will have to follow the requirements listed in this order before they can sail again. We’ll keep you posted as the situation continues to evolve, so stay tuned to DFB.