Since then we’ve seen some indications that cruises to Alaska may begin again this summer and have seen Disney Cruise Line cancel sailings through July. And now it looks like Carnival Cruise Line is one step closer to an eventual return to sailing.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has given its approval for Carnival Cruise Line to begin running test sailings out of Port Canaveral, Florida; Miami, Florida; and Galveston, Texas.
As Carnival’s own press release shares, the CDC specifically accepted their port agreements to allow for this start. Carnival notes, “Under the CDC guidelines, a cruise line must have agreements with its homeports that they are prepared to support the cruise operator with additional public health and operational resources prior to the implementation of simulated cruise and/or full guest operations.”
The sailings that Carnival will be making out of these ports will be test sailings with volunteer passengers. Carnival will need to complete the test voyage with at least 10% passenger capacity and meet certain safety requirements. If Carnival can meet the requirements, then it will obtain a Conditional Sailing Certificate. These certificates are provided on a ship-by-ship basis though, so each will be specific to the ship being used for the test sailing.
According to Port Canaveral CEO Capt. John Murray, “This is a monumental step to getting the cruise industry up and running once again.”
As the Orlando Sentinel notes, all ships that are looking to sail from the U.S. need to get approval from the CDC. If a cruise line agrees to sail with 98% of its crew vaccinated and 95% of passengers vaccinated, the CDC will allow that cruise line to skip the test cruise phase that Carnival is now attempting to complete.
The Orlando Sentinel shares that cruise lines like Carnival and Disney Cruise Line, whose passengers typically include a large number of families, are unlikely to meet those vaccination thresholds as COVID-19 vaccines have only been approved for those ages 12 and up at the moment.
Other cruise lines, such as Celebrity Cruises, have already been given approval from the CDC to sail using the vaccine thresholds. But, the Orlando Sentinel notes that cruise lines trying to sail out of Florida under the vaccine threshold requirements could come in conflict with Florida’s executive order and law banning vaccine passports.
As of right now, Disney Cruise Line has not yet shared any updates regarding its approval to do test sailings or any vaccine requirements for future sailings out of the United States.
We’ll continue to keep an eye out for more updates about the situation with these cruise lines and let you know what we find. Stay tuned for all the latest news.