It might seem that the cruise lines have taken the biggest hurdle in the return to cruising. Looking at the regulations and guidelines that the CDC requires from the cruise lines, this might not be the case.
The lifting of the No-Sail-Order is certainly not a free-for-all cruise lines to start putting guests back on board the vessels.
We look at the various steps the cruise lines will need to take to take guests onboard and how these procedures will affect you as a guest on board. Keep in mind that we cover the 40-page document‘s highlights, and this is in no way a complete overview.
The Four-Step CDC Framework
The CDC has compiled a list of 4 steps that the cruise lines must comply with to sail with guests. These regulations again have different rules and protocols to establish them.
1. Establishment of laboratory testing of crew onboard cruise ships in U.S. waters
This is an initial testing phase for all crew already onboard, followed by mandatory testing weekly for all crew members.
2. Simulated voyages designed to test a cruise ship operators’ ability to mitigate COVID-19 on cruise ships
Step two is the testing phase for cruise ships, where the CDC and cruise line can evaluate whether the line can handle the crowds onboard and mitigate COVID-19. These voyages will be made with volunteers. Observers will monitor and evaluate the mock journeys to ensure compliance.
3. Certification process
The point where the cruise line submits all its paperwork and is evaluated for safe sailing or not. These include all logs, whether the line has sufficient medical staff and a satisfactory laboratory for COVID testing.
Also Read: CLIA Responds to New CDC Conditional Order
4. A return to passenger voyages
At this point, ships will be allowed to board passengers and sail in a manner that mitigates the risk of COVID-19.
These phases will be further determined based on public health considerations and the demonstrated ability of cruise lines to employ measures successfully.
The document also states that if the cruise line is not successful in implementing measures, then the Certification will be revoked for that specific ship.
What’s in store for the guests?
While it is difficult to see the forest for the trees right now, some measures stand out and will undoubtedly be noticed by the guests.
Mandatory testing for all guests
While mandatory testing in itself is not unexpected, how the CDC is expecting the cruise lines to perform these is: The cruise ship operator must conduct laboratory testing of all passengers and crew on the day of embarkation and disembarkation.
So this means for the duration of your voyage, you will be tested, ensuring safety on board, and when you leave, you will be tested again.
If a certain amount of passengers are positive, the cruise could be canceled immediately
As per the CDC: Advise prospective passengers that, if a threshold of COVID-19 is detected onboard the cruise ship during a voyage, the voyage will be ended immediately, and the ship returned to the U.S. port of embarkation. Their subsequent travel, including their return home, maybe restricted or delayed.
We can forget about long cruises leaving from the United States for now
What the CDC says: The cruise ship operator must not sail or offer to sail on an itinerary longer than seven days.
So, the lifting of the No-Sail-Order was a bright spot; implementing the measures needed will be the next challenge for the cruise lines. How this will play out is to be seen in the next few weeks.