The CDC has gotten its fair share of criticism in the last 15 months, in some cases, for a good reason. However, there is no denying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is firing on all cylinders to get cruise lines sailing as soon as possible.
Several cruise lines have gotten permission to sail on voyages with vaccinated guests in the last few weeks. At the same time, the same and other cruise lines have also gotten permission to start sailing on the mandatory simulated voyages.
CDC Keeping Its Promises
To the surprise of many, the CDC has been working hard to keep its promise to restart the cruise industry as early as July. In fact, the agency has already permitted Celebrity Cruises to start cruising from the end of June.
In an update provided in the Florida Vs. CDC lawsuit the agency said it has approved port agreements covering 22 vessels at five ports of call and is reviewing the agreements for six additional vessels. These port agreements cover:
- Simulated passenger cruises
- Agreement over port COVID safety procedures
- A tabletop drill with cruise line and port staff on COVID safety procedures and rules
- An outbreak emergency response plan
- A plan for medical evacuations at sea in coordination with the US Coast Guard
- Cruise terminal and vehicle cleaning requirements
Port Miami, Port Canaveral, Port Everglades, and the Port of Galveston have been announced as having signed agreements with cruise lines.
The CDC has so far approved or provisionally approved four requests to conduct simulated voyages, with six more under review. The approved simulated voyages include Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, and Carnival Cruise Line, who will all make these voyages in June and July for restart in July.
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As for cruises with vaccinated guests, the CDC has now approved two cruise lines and provided them with conditional sailing certificates. Celebrity Cruises will restart US operations out of Port Everglades, Florida, on June 26 with Celebrity Edge on a seven-day cruise.
These cruises will need to comply with vaccination guidelines from the CDC. The vessel will need to reach a 98% crew vaccination level and a 95% crew vaccination level.
Florida Vs. CDC
The CDC released the above numbers as part of a motion in the lawsuit that Florida, Alaska, and Texas started against the CDC to seek an injunction against the CSO. The purpose of the motion by the CDC was to say Florida’s lawsuit is meritless essentially. While the lawsuit is under mediation, more details are becoming clear of what has been going on in the talks between the parties.
One such detail could mean the end of cruising for Alaska, says the federal government. According to the CDC, an injunction would stop cruises in Alaska for the season because the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act (ATRA) only benefits cruise ships with Conditional Sailing Certificates.
Also Read: President Biden Signs Bill That Allows Cruise Ships to Visit Alaska
According to the ATRA, “covered cruise ships” are temporarily permitted to meet an alternative standard if they hold a COVID-19 Conditional Sailing Certificate from the CDC and “operate in accordance” with it.
According to the CDC, a CSO waiver would cast considerable doubt on public confidence in cruise ships, particularly in the State of Florida, which is publicly battling the industry over its laws.
Florida dismissed the motion at least partially and planned to submit a response in due course. The lawsuit the three states started against the CDC is taking so much time ships will be sailing under the CSO, with guests onboard, before a decision has been made.
As long as the CDC continues on the path it has started on in recent months, approving plans from the cruise lines quickly and without much issue, we will indeed be sailing before the lawyers have made their conclusions.