The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention remains firm on its framework on the Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) that has been in place since November 1, 2020. With mounting pressure on the CDC to allow cruises from the U.S., the CDC has made it clear that the order will remain in place until November 1, 2021.
CDC Makes it Clear
The CDC has made it firmly clear that the current Conditional Sailing Order will remain in place until November 1, 2021. This comes after the Cruise Lines International Association pushed for cruises from the United States to be allowed from early July.
On Wednesday afternoon, CLIA urged the CDC to lift its Conditional Order and allow cruises to resume, as Cruise Hive reported earlier. If cruises could open up by July, it would connect well with President Biden’s forecast on when things could return to normal.
Kelly Craighead, CLIA’s president and CEO, has said that almost 400,000 passengers have cruised to date in more than 10 major cruise markets over the past eight months. She went on to say about the outdated CSO that was issued almost five months ago does not reflect the advancements the industry has made in making sure guests and crew remain safe.
This comes after the CDC has been relatively silent on the cruises front for some time and some confusing messages along the way. In a recent senate hearing, the CDC Director could not provide any timeframe on the CSO.
The CDC has also made it clear that resuming cruises is an inter-agency decision. It was previously thought the CDC was controlling when cruise operations could begin. At the moment, the Cruise Ship Guidance page on the CDC website remains in place.
The order is in four phases, and currently, the CDC is still in the first phase since last year. It’s not know how close to phase 2 the agency currently is, and cruise lines remain on hold for U.S. operations until further technical guidance from the CDC is released.
Cruise Lines Finding Alternative Homeports
So with the CDC remaining first on its Conditional Sailing Order and no further details coming from them on resuming cruises, it seems cruise lines are already implementing plan b.
The focus now is to find homeports outside the U.S. so cruise lines can restart their business and try to save what’s left of an industry on the verge of collapse. Royal Caribbean Group leads the way by already announcing new homeports in the Bahamas, St. Maarten, and Bermuda.
There are plenty of other regions, too, with MSC Cruises, Costa Cruises, AIDA Cruises, and TUI offering cruises in Europe at different times. Even the UK is now opening back up from May 17, with MSC, P&O, Cunard, Marella, Fred Olsen, and even Princess taking full advantage.
And still to come could be even more homeports outside the U.S. such as Cozumel and Jamaica. Norwegian Cruise Line could be the next major operator to announce new sailings outside the U.S. after the cruise line informed guests of cancellations due to several redeployments.
The situation remains very fluid indeed as the cruise industry puts more pressure on the CDC to allow cruises in the U.S.