Port Canaveral which is the world’s second-busiest cruise port and an important homeport for the cruise industry has reacted to the latest CDC developments on the resumption of cruise operations.
The news comes as the cruise industry has been on hold for more than a year which has also impacted major cruise ports, including Port Canaveral. There have recently been several calls for the CDC to lift its Conditional Sailing Order (CSO), but now the agency is open to making things easier, as mentioned in a letter to the cruise lines.
Port Canaveral Reaction
On Wednesday evening, the CDC sent a letter to cruise lines detailing relaxed requirements and ditching some of the unworkable instructions that cruise lines needed to go through just to move on to the next phase on the framework of the Conditional Sailing Order.
This has come as great news for the cruise industry and for the first time, there is now hope that cruises could actually restart in mid-July, something that state officials, cruise lines, and ports have been pushing towards for months. Since the news has come out that the CDC is willing to relax the CSO one of the busiest cruise ports in the world has already released a reaction.
Capt. John Murray, CEO Canaveral Port Authority, said:
“This is very exciting news. Finally, the CDC has responded to the cruise industry with game changing guidance to restart cruising in the U.S. This newly defined approach includes common sense recommendations, including CDC’s focus on cruise passengers that drive-in for cruises, which could expedite the resumption of cruise operations at Port Canaveral.”
What is the CDC Changing?
So the CDC has detailed some changed to its Phase 2A framework of the CSO and a letter sent to the cruise line detailed these changes. it also comes after the cruise industry had been meeting with the CDC to deal with the previous unworkable instructions that were released on April 2.
Here are the new changes:
- Ships can bypass the required simulated test voyages carrying volunteers and jump to sailings with paying passengers if 98% of crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated.
- CDC will review and respond to applications from cruise lines for simulated voyages within 5 days, a review previously expected to take 60 days.
- CDC will update its testing and quarantine requirements for passengers and crew on sailings with paying passengers to align with the CDC’s guidance for fully vaccinated people. So, for example, instead of taking a PCR lab test ahead of boarding vaccinated passengers can take a rapid antigen test upon embarkation.
- CDC has clarified that cruise ship operators may enter into a “multi-port agreement” rather than a single port agreement as long as all port and local authorities sign the agreement.
- The CDC has clarified guidance on quarantine guidelines for passengers who may be exposed to or contract COVID-19. For example, local passengers may be able to drive home and passengers who have traveled by air to cruise may quarantine in a hotel.
The hope is now that cruise lines can move forward and bypassing test voyages will no doubt help cut a lot of time out on resuming operations. Cruise lines will need between 60 to 90 days to get ships going again and Port Canaveral would be a major part of that process.
The Ports Stands Ready
Port Canaveral stands ready for cruises to resume and the sooner the better. The port has already completed the new Terminal 3 facility ready for Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras. However, the new ship that’s powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) remains in Barcelona, Spain waiting for the green light to head across the Atlantic to her new homeport.
The port has been making adjustments to make sure passengers can remains safe including any new procedures at the terminals. We should hear more reactions to the CDC updated instructions in the coming days.