On September 30th, the No Sail order from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will expire. Will the CDC lift the ban or will another extension be added to a long six months period without cruises.
74 Steps to a Safer Cruise Experience
This week a committee named the Healthy Sail Panel comprised of the Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings submitted a 74-step program to the CDC in an effort to convince them to allow cruise operations to start again in the U.S.
The 74-step program, which includes enhanced sanitation practices, controlling shore excursions, and more and better protection for crew members, is designed to protect guests from coming onboard with and protecting them against COVID-19. However, with hundreds of cruise ships sailing from U.S. waters each week during pre-COVID-19 times, it certainly is to the benefit of the Cruise Lines as well.
Since the CDC No Sail Order came into effect in March, many companies have ended up in severe financial trouble. Another extension of the no sail order will surely put some of these companies over the edge of bankruptcy. Of course, the major Cruise Lines did not receive any stimulus packages as many are registered in ports of convenience.
Ready in 30 Days
The Cruise Lines are preparing to go back to sailing, and are expecting the CDC to cancel the no sail order. With cruises already operating successfully in Europe, the U.S. cannot stay far behind.
An increasing number of Cruise Lines are starting or have started operations in Europe. TUI, Hapag-Lloyd, Costa, Seadream Yacht Club and MSC cruises are all underway or planned in the next few weeks.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) member lines stated this week that they are ready to start sailings and could be underway in 30 days or less. The issues lay mainly with flying all crew in from their respective countries, which will take a considerable amount of time.
In particular, this seems to be the case for those cruise lines operating with many Filipino crew members. The Philippines is still on strict lockdown in some areas of the country, and travel between provinces and islands in the Philippines is difficult.
Another question is how and where COVID-19 testing will take place. The United States is unlikely to accept thousands of crew members and guests to enter the country without being tested negative for COVID-19.
Not Just the Cruise Companies That Want to Sail
Of course, it is not just the Cruise companies that are affected by the no sail order. The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) has called on the CDC to resume cruising in the U.S. as soon as possible.
In a letter that was sent to the CDC, the ASTA asks to consider the thousands of travel agents, travel advisors, and cruise consultants that have been without work or income for months and months now.
ASTA also argues that the widespread adoption of mask-wearing, with the strict measures planned by the Cruise Lines, is enough reason for lifting the no sail order. According to ASTA, there is no need to wait for a COVID-19 vaccine.
A Waiting Game
No matter the stance the CDC takes on the no sail order, they do have in their hands the future of millions of people dependent on the Cruise industry.
The Cruise companies, the travel agents, the crew, and the guests that enjoy the ships, every one of them is hoping for positive news. Positive news that has been sadly lacking in an industry devastated by the coronavirus in the last six months.
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