U.S. Public Health Emergency Extended, How Does This Impact Cruises?

The Public Health Emergency in the U.S. has been extended which impacts the Conditional Sailing Order and cruise ships.

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The Public Health Emergency Status in the United States has been extended again for the sixth time. A declaration that the Public Health Emergency is over would have meant that the conditions in which cruise ships are operating under the Conditional Sail Order would effectively be over.

It is not to be as Secretary of Health, and Human Services Xavier Becerra extended the health emergency on July 19. A declaration of a public health emergency ensures government organizations have far-reaching power to ensure the health and safety of the general public.

Previously the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, declared the No Sail order for cruise ships from and inside the US under this status and the current Conditional Sail Order.

Conditional Sailing Order Stands Firm

The extension of the Public Health Emergency confirms once again that the Conditional Sail Order, which operates under the Public Health Emergency Status, is here to stay. Each extension of the emergency status is for an additional 90 days, meaning the current extension brings us to the end of October.

The Conditional Sail Order can be rescinded in three ways, either through the end of the Public Health Emergency, the CDC Director rescinds or modifies the order based on specific public health or other considerations; or November 1, 2021, when the original order is set to expire. However, even at this point, the CDC director could choose to extend the order again if the agency feels there are still significant risks to cruising.

PHE Website
PHE Website

The extension from the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, reads as follows:

As a result of the continued consequences of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, on this date and after consultation with public health officials as necessary, I, Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services, pursuant to the authority vested in me under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, do hereby renew, effective July 20, 2021, the January 31, 2020, determination by former Secretary Alex M. Azar II, that he previously renewed on April 21, 2020, July 23, 2020, October 2, 2020, and January 7, 2021, and that I renewed on April 15, 2021, that a public health emergency exists and has existed since January 27, 2020, nationwide.

What Are The Cruise Lines Saying

Although there has been significant pressure on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the last nine months, in particular, the current guidelines from the CDC seem to be an agreeable balance between the agency and the cruise lines.

CDC Logo
CDC Logo

The CDC has been remarkably quick with approving ships for test cruises, while the agency has also given the cruise industry leeway in cruising with vaccinated guests. While the cruise lines will be happy to sail without restrictions in the future, the measures are reasonable in the eyes of the cruise industry.

If the industry would sail without measures in place and an outbreak would occur onboard, the ensuing chaos would hurt it more than the profits they would be able to take from sailing with full ships.

In the last few weeks, it has even come to the point where Norwegian Cruise Line has sued Florida over a proof of vaccine ban in place in the state. The cruise line calls its ability to require proof of vaccination from passengers, as Cruise Hive reported only last week. At this point, it would seem that the cruise lines are happy to operate under the CSO.

What does this mean for guests onboard cruise ships? According to the latest reports from Carnival Cruise Line, not much. The cruise experience for many has been outstanding, with fewer guests on board but the same experiences and amenities as always.


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