Two U.S. representatives continue on their crusade to close down the cruise industry. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) urged the CDC to re-evaluate the voluntary program the Conditional Sail Order, which only needs to be followed if cruise lines want to from January 15, 2022, onwards.
The representatives also sent a letter to the cruise line representative organization CLIA, saying they had ‘extreme concern’ whether the cruise lines were operating safely. The letter, which is full of hearsay and little first-hand experience, shows again the unfairness the cruise industry has to endure, despite doing more than many establishments on land.
The expiration of the Conditional Sail Order, which CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said earlier this week, has prompted two U.S. representatives, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA), to push against the cruise industry once again.
While the CDC director was full of praise on how the cruise industry handles cruising in this modern age, the two representatives compiled two letters and a press release full of stunning inaccuracies. At Cruise Hive, we felt it was some time for some fact-checking.
“Prematurely transitioning to a voluntary program could allow companies to skirt necessary public health measures.”
Since July 23, 2021, the Conditional Sail Order has been in place voluntarily in Florida. Not one single vessel has been found to breach any protocol the Conditional Sail Order set out. In fact, every single cruise line has said it has followed and will continue to follow the guidelines set out by the CDC.
“Passengers on board ships with outbreaks say they have little accurate information about positive COVID-19 cases, and those who test positive report deplorable conditions. While ships continue sailing, cruise operators must take all actions necessary to prioritize the health and well-being of passengers and crew.”
Guest feedback has never been higher than what has been reported by the cruise lines in recent months. Cruise companies are, for the most part, publicly-traded and must therefore give open and honest feedback on what guests think.
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Further, guests who do test positive are indeed isolated. However, guests have access to 24-hour room service, free food and drinks, free internet and movies, and constant care from the onboard medical teams and officers—a fact proven by this report on Youtube.
The overwhelmingly positive feedback, which is evident on social media and message boards, shows that even if this did happen, it is a minor event on an otherwise highly positive experience for the large majority of people.
Just how uninformed the representatives are on the issues at hand becomes apparent when they start asking questions. While the letters are critical of cruise lines to the extreme, the questions speak volumes.
- Are passengers and crew required to be fully vaccinated?
- Are passengers and crew required to test negative before beginning a trip?
- Do cruise lines have mask mandates?
The representatives would like the CDC to tighten the rules for cruise lines yet do not know or are ignorant of the extreme measures cruise lines have taken. One would expect elected officials to know the facts before they start shouting from the rooftops. Especially when, in the words of CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, “The industry has stepped up and is now interested in exceeding the compliance with the Sail Order without the order necessarily needing to be in place.”
There are very few industries in the world that are as strictly regulated and comply with as strict reporting as the cruise industry in relation to the CDC. Perhaps the most shocking is the section where the officials question the cruise ships’ reporting, and the ‘yellow status’ the CDC assigns ships if they meet investigation criteria:
“Currently, ships submit reports to the CDC about the number of passengers and crew who test positive for COVID-19 or have COVID-19-like symptoms. According to the most recent data on the CDC’s website, all cruise ships with passengers in U.S. waters have enough positive COVID-19 cases to meet the CDC’s threshold for an investigation.“
However, what is, perhaps purposely, left out is what these criteria are, something we explored in a previous article. The yellow status means 0.1% of guests onboard have COVID-19, or 1 crew member, over a period of seven days. Senator Blumenthal has seen 176,364 cases per million in his state alone.
The number of cases per million on cruise ships? Up to October of 2021, Royal Caribbean had seen 150 cases over 500,000 passengers.
The cruise industry has taken unprecedented steps to ensure the safety of the crew and guests, going much further than any other industry. Isolation onboard a ship is not fun; unfortunately, it is necessary under the rules implemented by the CDC, which the representatives want the cruise lines to follow.
Senator Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Representative Doris Matsui have consistently sought the limelight since the cruise industry paused operations in March 2020 and even before that time. One wonders what the thought is behind the letters from these officials.
What we have now is that the representatives criticize the cruise industry for following the rules set out by the CDC, yet at the same time telling the cruise lines they must follow those same rules.
The industry has shown it is safe, yes there are areas, such as being isolated, which are not ideal when you are on vacation. But, the cruise lines are committed to sailing under the CSO, even if voluntary. The only question is how long the CDC’s measures will remain in place, as it would be unlikely the cruise lines would be the one to put those measures to the side.