While the cruise industry awaits a decision on the No-Sail-Order for December, the CDC still recommends that travelers defer all cruise travel worldwide.
The decision from the CDC to continue spreading this advice is surprising, to say the least. It will not be pleasing towards the cruise industry which has been making positive noises in the last weeks about sailings to take place this year.
Whether the advice will lead to a further extension of the No-Sail-Order remains to be seen. At the moment the current CDC No Sail order is through October 31, 2020.
What is the CDC saying
The CDC has been on level three travel advice since March: Avoid Nonessential Travel—Widespread Ongoing Transmission. In its travel advice which was updated on October 21, the CDC says that Cruise passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person infection, and outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported on several cruise ships.
It has further stated that the CDC usually doesn’t give travel advice on specific modes of transport but has chosen to single out the cruise industry specifically in this case:
“CDC typically posts travel health notices for countries and other international destinations, not transportation, such as ships. Because of the unprecedented nature of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and the increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 on cruise ships, the U.S. government is advising U.S. travelers to defer all cruise travel.”
The CDC’s advice only covers U.S. travelers going on cruises. The CDC has no say whatsoever on anyone taking or organizing a cruise in other parts of the World.
Is the CDC targeting the Cruise Industry in particular?
The CDC has made it a regular item that cruise ships are targeted as potential super-spreaders of the disease, while conclusive evidence seems to be lacking entirely:
“Recent reports of COVID-19 on cruises highlight the risk of infections to cruise passengers and crew. Like many other viruses, COVID-19 appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships and boats. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, there remains a risk of infected passengers and crew on board cruise ships.”
Clearly, the CDC has not been updating its website. Besides the few ships which had to deal with outbreaks at the beginning of the pandemic, cruise lines that have been operating in Europe over the last few months have been successful in keeping the virus away.
Only two instances have been known onboard ships in Europe, Costa cruises had eight infections, and MSC had a possible infection which turned out to be negative. Both ships dealt with the situation effectively and no consequences were noted further.
Currently in sailing in Europe are TUI (Mein Schiff), Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd, Seadream, and AIDA.
With constant testing being done on all these vessels and sailing proven to be safe, it is unclear why the CDC would say that cruise ships are a source of increased transmission risk.
What about the No-Sail Order?
The advice from the CDC will hopefully not be a sign of worse to come. Director Redfield has been vocal about wanting to extend the No-Sail-Order to February at a minimum.
Only due to the White House reputedly blocking that decision was the order shortened to a one month period. It is only a few days until the CDC does make its decision, and as everyone else, we certainly hope that cruising is back on the program next month.
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