Breaking News: According to reports, The Trump administration plans to extend the no-sail order for cruise ships until October 31. (That matches the endpoint of the cruise industry’s self-imposed ban.)
According to a news reports By Axios, claims that CDC Director Robert Redfield, “was overruled when he pushed to extend a “no-sail order” on passenger cruises into next year.”
The CDC no sail order is set to expire on September 30th which could mean the return of cruising in the United States in just over a month.
Back on March 14th, the CDC issued the no sail order citing “that cruise ship travel may continue to introduce, transmit, or spread COVID-19”.
The order was then extended on April 9th for another 100 days and again on July 16th for an additional 100 days.
With the no sail order set to expire within a few days, it could mean the return of cruising in the US
From March 1st until July 10th 2020, the CDC recorded 99 outbreaks on 123 ships resulting in 2973 cases of COVID-19 and 34 deaths.
Cruise health and safety protocols have come a long way since the no sail order was implemented. More than 10 cruise lines now have resumed operations around the world including Europe, Australia and most recently, the first cruise line announced they will resume operations in the Caribbean.
Two large cruise lines have also returned to the seas in the Mediterranean. MSC, the fourth largest cruise line in the world has already successfully completed its 5th cruise without a single case of COVID-19 on board.
Carnival Corporation owned, Costa Cruises was the second large cruise line to resume operations in Italy on September 6th.
All eyes are now on the CDC as it could lift the no sail order for the United States in the coming days. The cruise industry in the U.S. contributed nearly $53 billion to the American economy in 2018 and employed 421,711 people domestically.
Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings formed a healthy sail panel that was created to bring the healthy return of cruising in the United States.
The panel that is made up of experts in the fields of medicine, science, infectious disease and biosecurity announced a 72 step plan on September 19th that will help to protect Americans when cruising returns.
The panel then presented the plan to the CDC and announced that the safety measures would be available for the entire cruise industry to adopt.
If the recommendations are adopted industry wide, Americans can expect that all passengers will be tested for COVID-19 between 5 days and 24 hours before boarding.
Passengers will have to provide proof of the negative test result before boarding and cruise lines could adopt a secondary test upon arrival.
According to the plan, passengers embarkation could involve the following process:
- Get tested for COVID-19 within 5 days of arriving for boarding.
- Present negative COVID-19 test to cruise operators.
- Undergo health screening to identify any potential COVID-19 symptoms.
- Undergo temperature screening using a contactless device.
However if the CDC does lift the no sail order, the United States cruise industry voluntarily suspended voyages in US waters until at least October 31st.
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) members carry 95% of the world’s oceangoing cruisers. The suspension will apply to all of its cruise line member ships that carry more than 250 passengers.
But this is a voluntary suspension and could be lifted if the CLIA feels confident cruising can resume safely.
Most major cruise lines have scheduled their first cruises past the October 31st expiration date set by the CLIA. If the CDC does lift the no sail order, major cruise lines could use the next month for smaller capacity sailings exclusively for friends, family and crew to test the new health protocols.
Americans could be returning to the sea in just over a month if the CDC lifts its no sail order. The only questions now is, are cruisers ready?
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