As the situation with the COVID-19 pandemics, we’ve seen various changes made and new guidelines released.
One big industry that has yet to fully return since the start of the pandemic is the cruising industry. Recently, we shared that cruises may be able to begin sailing again from the U.S. this summer and now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) has issued some updated guidance.
According to USA Today, the CDC released new guidance today for cruise ships with “instructions for trial voyages with volunteer passengers” which must take place before they can set sail with paying passengers under the CDC’s framework.
USA Today notes that the CDC now states that with the release of this guidance, “cruise ship operators now have all the necessary requirements and recommendations they need to start simulated voyages before resuming restricted passenger voyages and apply for a COVID-19 conditional sailing certificate to begin sailing with restricted passenger voyages.”
Recommendations and requirements are subject to change in the future, however, so that is something cruise line operators must keep in mind.
According to USA Today, cruise ships that require at least 95% of its passengers to be vaccinated, and require at least 98% of their crew members to be vaccinated, will be able to skip the test sailing requirement. Those cruise lines will be able to go straight to starting sailings with their paying passengers.
For those cruises that undergo the simulation phase, test cruises must have at least 10% passenger capacity, all volunteer passengers have to be at least 18 years old or older, and all volunteer passengers must either be fully vaccinated or they must provide “written documentation from a healthcare provider or self-certified statement that the volunteer passenger has no medical conditions that would place the volunteer at high risk for severe COVID-19 as determined through CDC guidance.”
All volunteer passengers also have to agree to certain COVID-19 testing requirements. Simulated voyages have to be between 2-7 days in length.
The CDC outlines a number of activities that have to be simulated onboard including onboard activities (like seating and meal service at dining and entertainment venues), recreational activities that the cruise intends to offer for future paying, restricted passenger voyages (like casinos, spa services, etc.), private-island shore excursions (if any are planned to be offered during future paying, restricted passenger voyages), and more.
Cruise lines must complete at least one simulation for each ship which they intend to use for restricted passenger voyages, unless the cruise line will be meeting those vaccination requirements that allow them to skip the testing phase. According to USA Today, however, “it is unclear when cruise operators will be able to begin test sailings. “
USA Today indicates that a CDC spokesperson has said cruise lines could start offering passenger voyages from the U.S. in mid-July, depending on their compliance with the CDC’s framework.
Right now, Disney has canceled all U.S. cruises through June, and select cruises are canceled through October. We’ll continue to keep an eye out for more updates regarding cruising and let you know what we find!
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Do you have a Disney Cruise booked for later this year? Tell us in the comments!