Cruise lines and cruise representatives have issued reactions to the White House and CDC’s decision to drop the testing requirements for international flights coming into the United States.
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), in particular, wonders whether a review of the pre-embarkation testing requirements for cruise travelers is also in order. In the meantime, cruise lines expect travel for cruise passengers to become much more manageable.
No More Testing For US-bound Flights
The cruise industry representing organization CLIA said it welcomes the changes that the White House and CDC have initiated by removing the entry testing requirements for travelers to the United States.
The news was confirmed by White House Assistant Press Secretary Kevin Munoz on Friday, stating: “US will end Covid-19 testing requirement for air travelers entering the country. CDC
will evaluate its need based on the science and in context of circulating variants. The President to work on effective vaccines and treatments critical to this.”
The importance of removing the testing requirement for the cruise industry becomes clear when evaluating the number of travelers that come to the United States to board a cruise ship.
Of the 79 million visitors to the United States, 2.5 million did so to go on a cruise holiday from one of the many cruise homeports in the US.
These travelers generated $4.5 billion in spending to the US economy. Not just in cruise tickets but also flights, hotel overnights, food and beverage expenditures, and transport.
According to CLIA, the move will help in the recovery of the US economy: “The decision announced today is a strong step forward in easing restrictions so that the cruise industry can continue to contribute to the rebounding of the U.S. economy.”
Although the testing requirements did not prevent these visitors from traveling to the US, they made many hesitant to comply with double testing requirements. Once before flying, and again before sailing.
Review of Pre-Cruise Testing Needed
CLIA believes now is the opportune moment to evaluate whether pre-cruise testing requirements are still needed:
“As the CDC monitors the improving health landscape and works with airlines to support a smooth transition with the lifting of the pre-arrival testing requirement, we believe a review of pre-embarkation testing requirements for cruise travelers is also in order.”
While hopeful, the message will more than likely fall on deaf ears. The CDC has traditionally, and rightfully, held the cruise industry to much higher standards than those rules in place ashore.
It will likely argue that cruise ships are only starting to sail at a much higher capacity, and therefore, the current voluntary program that all cruise lines participate in will not be removed.
That said, several cruise lines have already said the move is a step in the right direction, including Holland America Line, which issued a statement on Friday.
Seattle-based Holland America calls the move a significant step forward for the US economy and in the return of global travel and cruising. The move works both ways for cruise passengers. It will be easier for those outside the US to travel to the States and make returning to the US post-cruise much easier for US-based passengers.
Holland America stated the following: “This is exciting news for Holland America Line and our guests as we complete our return to service this week with all 11 ships in our fleet back in operations. It removes a barrier to travel for some guests who understandably wanted to avoid the uncertainty of return testing.”
According to Holland America Line, the removal of testing pre-flight is no reason to remove any of the health and safety measures that are in place onboard. The company will continue to operate vaccinated cruises, which help to ensure cruising is among the safest forms of socializing and travel.