With preparations for a resumption of cruises in full swing, it comes somewhat as a surprise to see that no less than five cruise ships have not yet met the CDC’s approval for disembarking crew members.
These ships are:
- Celebrity Apex and Summit: currently both at anchor in Stirrup Cay, Bahamas,
- MSC Preziosa: Sailing at full speed away from Miami towards the Spanish port of Algeciras. The ship has no cruises planned inside US waters.
- Disney Dream: Which has recently left the port of Brest and is sailing full steam towards Port Canaveral.
- Carnival Horizon: The Carnival vessel is currently docked in Port Miami.
What Are These Guidelines?
The CDC guidelines are not a new thing, and an essential step before the ships can take the next step towards cruising. The CDC website states:
Cruise lines must have measures to ensure those involved in transport are not exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 and follow all CDC requirements to prevent interaction of disembarking crew with the public.
These measures are the following:
- Ships must have A COVID-19 response plan that is complete and accurate.
- No confirmed cases of COVID-19 or COVID-like illness for 28 days, as determined by a qualified medical professional.
- If the ship has received ship-to-ship transfers, the crew must have come from a ship that had no confirmed cases of COVID-19 or COVID-like illness within the 28 days before the transfer occurred.
- If land-based crew embarked, they were immediately quarantined for 14 days upon embarking the ship.
- Submission of a signed attestation for commercial travel.
- CDC requires ships to test all crew members during the initial phases of the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, including those on “Green” ships
If any of these steps are missing, ships cannot start disembarking crew members that will fly home. It would most likely be challenging to embark new crew members, as ships will not want to mix the two groups. This would cause delays in a time when any delays could be very costly.
There are two variations on the measures and how ships would be able to send their crew members home. Cruise lines with complete and accurate response plans can use commercial travel to disembark crew members if the ships meet the CDC’s criteria.
Cruise lines with a complete and accurate COVID-19 response plan but not meeting the above criteria will still be able to disembark their crew members using noncommercial travel.
The CDC makes clear as well that this is step one in the process towards a cruise resumption. Meeting these criteria does not mean cruise ships can resume passenger operations.
Why have these five ships not adhered to the guidelines?
Cruise lines are usually quite thorough with their paperwork and preparations. There are several reasons why ships would get a ‘Red’ status. Not complying with any of the above protocols or just being late with handing over the necessary info could result in this status.
The CDC has specified that all ships wishing to operate within US ports or in US territorial waters must comply with all of the requirements under the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order and Technical Instructions even when outside US waters. How this plays into MSC Preziosa’s situation is a mystery as the vessel has no scheduled voyages in US waters.
A ship could have missed one small detail, which would have led to a ‘Red’ status.
It could also have something to do because not all crew members were yet tested for COVID-19. The CDC says on its website, in reply requiring all vessels to test all crew members during the initial phases:
CDC’s guidance under the previous No Sail Order recommended routine testing of the crew. However, only 1% of the crew aboard ships were tested for COVID-19 during the No Sail Order period.
Whatever the reason, it is another step that proves that the CDC is incredibly thorough in their endeavors to make as ‘safe’ as possible. The fact that cruising has been done safely already for months in Europe and Asia means little.
Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock.com