Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, a leading global cruise company that operates the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, has sent a letter to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today seeking permission to resume cruise trips from U.S. ports in July.
They have outlined a plan to the CDC to resume operations under strict health and safety protocols, including the requirement for passengers and crew members to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at least two weeks before the trip.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Proposes Plan to CDC to Resume Operations
The cruising industry has been one of the worst-hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC has blocked cruise ships from operating in U.S. ports with a no-sail order since March 2020.
The CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Frank Del Rio, has sent a request to the CDC to resume cruise operations in the U.S. on July 4th, 2021. The plan was sent in a letter to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC.
The companies plan includes a multi-layered SailSAFE Health and Safety Program, developed in conjunction with globally recognized experts. The plan is consistent with the CDC’s updated guidance that international travel is safe for fully vaccinated individuals and that COVID-19 vaccination efforts will be critical in the safe resumption of cruise ship travel.
The plan requires that all guests and crew are vaccinated at least two weeks before the trip, which is in line with the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order guidelines they released last week. Other major cruise lines are also requiring cruise ship passengers to be fully vaccinated prior to departing on a trip.
Norwegian says the vaccination requirement eliminates the need for the CDC’s conditional-sailing order. Therefore, they have asked for permission to start running cruises from U.S. ports on or around July 4th, 2021.
Norwegian plans to begin U.S. sailings at 60% of capacity in July, with the capacity total rising by 20% every 30 days. They plan to be fully operating at 100% capacity by September.
“We congratulate the CDC on the steps it has taken to further open travel for vaccinated Americans. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings shares the CDC’s view that vaccinations are the primary vehicle for Americans to get back to their everyday lives,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.
”We believe that through a combination of 100% mandatory vaccinations for guests and crew and science-backed public health measures as developed by the Healthy Sail Panel, led by former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt and former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Dr. Scott Gottlieb, we can create a safe, ‘bubble-like’ environment for guests and crew. We look forward to joining the rest of the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors in participating in this next phase of our recovery.”
In the press release, the company highlighted that the cruise industry has successfully carried nearly 400,000 passengers in more than 10 major cruise markets outside the United States over the last 8 months – all prior to the availability of widespread vaccinations. During those cruises, there were only a few isolated COVID-19 cases that were effectively identified, contained, and mitigated without impacting the health of other passengers.
Del Rio also noted that cruises are the only form of travel being prohibited from operating within the United States.
He went on to say that the companies precautions go well beyond steps taken by others in the travel and leisure industry that have already reopened, including airlines, hotels, restaurants, and sporting events.
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