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CDC Extends Conditional Sail Order Rules For Cruising into 2022

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has extended its conditional sail order for cruise ship until beyond the new year. The decision is yet more good news for the resurgent cruise industry, who struggled at the hands of a no sail order for the bulk of the pandemic but have made the most of the past few months, and it also serves as good news for cruise starved travelers who may have been considering a cruise in the early weeks of 2022.

cruise ships

From a complete shutdown of cruise operations at the height of the pandemic, to the careful chopping and changing of travel restrictions in order to keep cruises out on the open seas, it has been a roller-coaster of a year for cruise lines in the US and around the world, but thankfully the worst looks to be behind them. Here's a look at the CDC's decision to extend the conditional sail order, plus a recap of what kind of restrictions and requirements passengers have to deal with in order to cruise.

cruise ship sailing

Sailing Order Extended – Information For Travelers

The CDC has extended its conditional sail order until January 15th, giving those in the industry not only peace of mind but a stark reminder that we are still very much in the midst of a pandemic. With the extension also comes some slight changes to the conditional sail order, but the changes are unlikely to affect travelers much, if at all, unlike some other changes to the order in the past.

niagara falls cruise

The leader of the CDC’s maritime unit, Captain Aimee Treffiletti, explained that the order was being extended in the best interests of public health, adding:

“The pandemic isn't over. We've seen what the delta variant can do. Despite, you know, really what have been the best efforts of the cruise industry to provide a safer and healthier environment for crew, passengers and communities, COVID-19 has still been a challenge, particularly with the delta variant.” 

The conditional sail order was granted last October, and mandated several restrictions that have become the new normal in the cruise industry. The order brought about mandatory testing for those on board cruise ships, as well as other additional safeguarding measures for cruise line cruise members designed to keep them safe on board. 

Speaking about the success of the order to date, the CDC said the following in a press release on Monday:

“Since the issuance of the CSO on Oct. 30, 2020, cruise lines, with CDC assistance, have developed and implemented strong health and safety protocols to manage COVID-19 and resumed passenger operations.”

Many leading figures working in the cruise industry maintain that cruises are amongst the safest travel options at present due to the rigorous testing protocols that must be followed in order to take part in a cruise. Vaccinated passengers must be tested for Covid-19 prior to boarding a cruise, whilst unvaccinated passengers must also do the same tests in addition to a test immediately before boarding. 

The announcement of the extension of the conditional sail order also revealed the CDC’s plans for when the order expires once more on January 15th. From this date, the CDC will transition from the conditional sail order to a voluntary program, where cruise lines will be able to decide if they would like to participate in the program or not. The freedom offered by this change could see cruise-related restrictions change again, depending on how the battle against Covid-19 is going. 

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