The CDC has today announced that the No-Sail-Order will no longer be in effect from November 1, 2020. Instead, the CDC has announced a framework for a Conditional Sailing Order.
While the Industry anticipated the favorable decision, the move can still be described as surprising. Dr. Redfield, the Centres of disease control director, had stated last month he would prefer a No-Sail Order to be in effect until February at the least.
This decision comes after months of intense deliberations between the cruise lines, White House, and CDC. It will be a welcome message for the thousands of guests eagerly anticipating a return on board and the millions of people involved in the cruise industry.
New Conditional Order
A careful approach to resuming cruises is needed and the CDC and cruise lines will work on a phased-in return of operations. So yes, the No-Sail Order has ended. So here are the details from the CDC on the Conditional Sailing Order and the full order details can be read through here.
- The expiration of the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ declaration that COVID-19 constitutes a public health emergency,
- The CDC Director rescinds or modifies the order based on specific public health or other considerations, or
- November 1, 2021.
The CDC has detailed what will need to be done on the safe return of operations to make sure not just guests and crew remain safe but also those in local areas on land. In it’s new update the CDC stated:
The initial phases will consist of testing and additional safeguards for crew members. CDC will ensure cruise ship operators have adequate health and safety protections for crew members while these cruise ship operators build the laboratory capacity needed to test future passengers.
Subsequent phases will include simulated voyages to test cruise ship operators’ ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk, certification for ships that meet specific requirements, and a phased return to cruise ship passenger voyages in a manner that mitigates COVID-19 risk among passengers, crew members, and U.S. communities.
These phases are subject to change based on public health considerations and cruise ship operators’ demonstrated ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk. CDC will issue additional orders as needed that will be published in the Federal Register
and technical instructions that will be subsequently posted on CDC’s website.
Cruise Lines Pressure Pays Off
The cruise lines, amongst which Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Lines, have been putting significant pressure on government officials and the CDC to allow sailing from U.S. ports as soon as possible.
This went as far as the White House when the cruise lines had a conference with Vice President Pence a few weeks ago.
No matter the circumstances, the cruise lines return will be a happy moment for thousands of guests as cruise bookings remain at the same level as last year for many lines, and in some cases, even higher. It looks like the public’s confidence in the cruise industry has been at a high level throughout the pandemic as most cruises scheduled for the end of the year and beyond are sold out.
Not only will the guests be happy to see cruising return. Crew members from various companies have been at home for some time, some up to six or seven months. These will now finally be able to return to their workplaces.
Crew members in various nations have been called up to be ready on a moment’s notice—a show of confidence from the cruise lines in their efforts to convince the CDC.
What Will Cruising Be Like?
A return to cruising in the U.S. does not mean that everything is back to normal. The cruise lines have implemented extensive protocols and regulations which have, presumably, played a significant role in the decision from the CDC on the resumption of cruising.
Not only will the cruise lines be able to draw from the experience of cruising in Europe, but there is also the 74-step plan from the Healthy Sail Panel to implement.
Cruising in Europe has been reasonably successful for several months now. Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises, Hapag Lloyd, Seadream, TUI, and AIDA have all done cruises so far. These range from sea-escapes where the cruises consist of sea days only, to full-on port day voyages.
These voyages have been successful in avoiding any COVID outbreaks on-board by strictly implementing testing and sanitation protocols. Ships sailing from the U.S. will surely draw from this experience while also implementing the strict 74-steps the healthy sail panel recommends.
It remains to be seen what restrictions the CDC will require. However, it seems inevitable that the CDC will require additional measures on top of what the cruise lines have planned.
Past CDC No Sail Orders
The first No-Sail order was issued on March 14, 2020, which followed the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) voluntary suspension of operations. The CDC order was then extended for the first time on April 15, 2020, which was announced on April 9.
With no end to the global pandemic, the order was extended for the second time on July 16 through September 30, 2020. The finally on September 30 it was extended once again through October 31, 2020, which has lead to today’s announcement.
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