Many have wondered if the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will extend its Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) beyond November 1, 2021. Well, now, the CDC has decided to temporarily extend the order into January 2022, which a voluntary program will then follow in coordination with the cruise industry.
CDC Conditional Sailing Order Extended
With the CDC extending the Conditional Sailing Order, it now means cruise lines will have to continue to follow the guidelines and requirements until January 15, 2022. However, with several cruise lines already extending their own protocols into next year, there won’t be much of a change.
The cruise ship order was updated on October 25 on the CDC’s website, which says, “CDC extended the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) with minor modifications. The CDC Director signed the Temporary Extension & Modification of the CSO on October 25, 2021; it is effective upon expiration of the current CSO on November 1, 2021.”
The CDC says in the extension order, “However, considering the continued spread of the Delta variant, emergence of other COVID-19 variants of concern, breakthrough cases among the fully vaccinated, and possible additional surges of cases and deaths, CDC has determined a temporary extension of the CSO is necessary for foreign-flagged cruise ships operating on international itineraries. After the expiration of this temporary extension, CDC intends to transition to a voluntary program, in coordination with interested cruise ship operators and other stakeholders, to assist the cruise ship industry to detect, mitigate, and control the spread of COVID-19 onboard cruise ships.”
You can read the entire order below:
There are some ways that the order could come to an end earlier than January 15, 2022. The order could be rescinded by the CDC Director, which is very unlikely. Another way the order could end earlier is if the Secretary of Health and Human Services expires the public health emergency.
Several updates to the CSO over the months, one of the most significant being that vaccinated guests have to get tested within two days before the cruise ship departs. The order only applies to cruise ships that operate in the U.S. or those foreign-flagged vessels that operate outside the U.S. and plan to return to the country.
What Follows the Conditional Sailing Order?
We are far from the early days of the pandemic when the CDC and the cruise lines were not in agreement due to complicated requirements and guidelines. Since then, the situation has moved on, with the CDC and the cruise industry working together on a safe return of operations.
This engagement and corporations will continue from January 15, 2022, with a new voluntary program. All parties will work together to ensure that guests and crew remain protected and control the spread onboard cruise ships.
The CDC said, “After the expiration of the Temporary Extension & Modification of the CSO, CDC intends to transition to a voluntary program, in coordination with cruise ship operators and other stakeholders, to assist the cruise ship industry to detect, mitigate, and control the spread of COVID-19 onboard cruise ships.”
We may see further modifications depending on how the pandemic continues to spread and the impact on cruises and ports of call. However, cruise lines have proved that cruise ships can sail safely despite increased cases not just in the U.S. but destinations around the world.
Carnival Cruise Line has already announced that its ships will continue to sail for vaccinated guests through February 2022. With the CSO set to come to an end in 2022, cruise lines will still be taking its guidance from the CDC to make sure everyone remains safe.
The Conditional Sailing Order was first announced on October 30, 2020, and it came during a time when the cruise industry was suspended and vessels put on hold. Prior to the order was the No Sail Order, which went into effect in March 2020, when the cruise industry first shut down.