The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & prevention released further technical instructions for resuming cruises as part of the Conditional Sailing Order. The majority of the details focused on simulated voyages and volunteer passengers.
Phase 2B and 3 Released
With the cruise industry and the CDC working together to get cruises resumed by mid-July, the agency has now released phases 2B and 3 as part of the framework of the Conditional Sailing Order. This follows Phase 2A, released on April 2 but has since been slightly altered after backlash from the cruise lines.
The real focus of the new phases is on simulated voyages and details for volunteer passengers. It also confirms two pathways for resuming operations as the CDC has already said that cruises can resume without test cruises if 98% of the crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated.
So the new instructions include:
- Eligibility and requirements for conducting a simulated (trial) voyage in preparation for restricted passenger voyages.
- Guidance for inspections of cruise ships conducted by CDC during simulated and restricted passenger voyages.
- Operational procedures to assist cruise ship operators in mitigating the risk of spreading COVID-19, including requirements and recommendations on prevention measures, surveillance for COVID-19 on board, laboratory testing, infection prevention and control, face mask use, social distancing, passenger interactive experiences, and embarkation and disembarkation procedures.
The CDC has also said that Phase 4 will be for an aprooved COVID-19 Conditional Sailing Certificate and that no additional docusments are to be released for this. Instead, details will be updated online with the lessons learnd from the simulated voyages.
The CDC Opens Up To Cruises
The CDC has finally opened up to the cruise industry, and in the latest announcement, the agency has said that it remains committed to working with cruise lines, ports and partners so that cruising can resume by mid-summer.
It has also been confirmed that since April 12, 2021, that the CDC along with senior leadership from other federal agencies have been meeting twice-weekly with various cruise line representatives. The discussions opened up a constructive dialogue and cruise lines have been able to exchange information on new safety measures implemented since the Conditional Sailing order was first introduced at the end of October 2020.
Worth Reading: Is Time Running Out for U.S. Cruises to Resume This Summer?
One of the biggest frustrations cruise lines had was that the CDC was not considering the new developments they had made to make sure guests and crew can remain safe. Now that has changed, and things are moving forward. However, the CDC does still recommend that all passengers and crew still get fully vaccinated for a safe return of operations.
The CDC has also said that it acknowledges that cruises can’t be a zero risk activity for the spread of the virus and there will always be some risk especially with the new variants. technical instructions will continue to be developed as the situation remains very fluid.