The day has finally arrived! The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has revealed the second phase of its Conditional Sailing Order. Cruise lines now have more details on resuming cruises but it all seems too technical to restart any time soon.
This comes after growing calls for the CDC to let cruises resume and move to the next phase of the four-phased framework. These technical instructions cover a range of implementations cruise lines will need to sort out so that cruises can resume. How long this will take, remains to be seen.
Phase Two of Conditional Sailing Order Released
It’s a complex phase where the cruise lines have to dig deep and move forward on a range of measures, including daily reports of any cases on board and a plan for vaccinating crew members. However, no details yet on test sailings as those will come in the following phase. Here is the brief list that the second phase technical instructions include:
- Increasing from weekly to daily the reporting frequency of COVID-19 cases and illnesses.
- Implementing routine testing of all crew based on each ship’s color status.
- Updating the color-coding system used to classify ships’ status with respect to COVID-19.
- Decreasing the time needed for a “red” ship to become “green” from 28 to 14 days based on the availability of onboard testing, routine screening testing protocols, and daily reporting.
- Creating planning materials for agreements that port authorities and local health authorities must approve to ensure cruise lines have the necessary infrastructure in place to manage an outbreak of COVID-19 on their ships to include healthcare capacity and housing to isolate infected people and quarantine those who are exposed.
- Establishing a plan and timeline for vaccination of crew and port personnel.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said:
“With millions of Americans getting vaccinated every day, it is important to update the public on the latest science about what fully vaccinated people can do safely, now including guidance on safe travel.”
“We continue to encourage every American to get vaccinated as soon as it’s their turn, so we can begin to safely take steps back to our everyday lives. Vaccines can help us return to the things we love about life, so we encourage every American to get vaccinated as soon as they have the opportunity.”
The CDC website has been updated with all the required instructions as of April 2, 2021. The second phase comes after the first phase was first announced on October 30, 2021. Since then, the CDC has remained mostly hush on the situation, which has resulted in a lot of frustration across the cruise industry and the state of Florida.
Cruise Lines Need to Work Fast
If cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Line are to save their June sailings, they’ll need to work fast on following the new instructions. It can take around 60 days to prepare, and now the challenge is on as a lot still needs to be done.
The cruise lines should be fully prepared as they’ve been waiting for this day for five months. We already know Carnival and Royal Caribbean have been bringing select crew members back to the ships.
All cruise lines have already implemented strict health protocols onboard and major cruise homeports such as PortMiami are working closely with the lines in support. We also know that PortMiami is even setting up a dedicated complex for this very reason.
Cruise lines will need to make sure they have a set plan in place as the priority really is making sure guests and crew remain safe at all times.
CDC Finally Focused on Travel
This news comes after a day full of travel updates from the CDC. Earlier in the day, updated guidance was released for domestic and international travel. Those travelers who are vaccinated are “low risk” and can travel if they like without the need for a test (if not required by the destination) or self-quarantine.
For those traveling international and fully vaccinated, they still must have a negative test before a flight to the United states.
We were expected new technical guidelines but not this soon! Since the growing calls for the CDC to lift its Conditional Sailing Order, the CDC did respond to the Miami-Dade Mayor saying that new guidelines would be released soon.
However, these are the planned guidelines and don’t come as a surprise. Many will still be disappointed that the Conditional Sailing Order has not yet been lifted and now cruise lines have more measures to deal with.