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Just moments before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) last No-Sail Order was set to expire on Sept. 30, the government agency has extended it through Oct. 31.
According to an Axios report, Robert Redfield, director of CDC, had initially wanted to keep cruise travel from the U.S. suspended all the way until February 2021. However, he was overruled by Vice President Mike Pence.
The decision to extend the order by at least one more month comes shortly after both Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the Healthy Sail Panel submitted extensive recommendations for resuming voyages in a safe manner.
If there’s one glimmer of hope, it’s that CDC’s timeline now matches CLIA’s own voluntary suspension of sailing, which also ends Oct. 31.
We support the science-based plan that the cruise industry’s Safe Sail Panel presented to the CDC and believe these safety protocols puts public health and people first including travelers, the crew and port employees.
In response to CDC’s latest order, Carnival Cruise Line revealed today that it would be canceling the remainder of its 2020 sailings from U.S. homeports with the exception of those from Miami and Port Canaveral, Fla., set for November and December.
"As we have said throughout this pause, our return to operations will be gradual and phased in,” noted Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, in a press release. “And while we are not making any presumptions, once cruising is allowed, we will center our initial startup from the homeports of Miami and Port Canaveral.”
According to Duffy, the line is making its plans by considering the health and safety of its guests, crew and communities.
”The patience and support of our guests and travel agent partners have been a huge motivation to our team as we have worked through this unprecedented situation and we are dedicated to getting back to operations when the time is right,” she said.
Meanwhile, Cruise Planners has also reacted to CDC’s latest attitudes toward the travel segment.
“It was the right decision for the cruise industry to voluntarily suspend operations, but the industry is being hamstringed by any mandatory extension, and it is time to start implementing the responsible and safe return to operations,” said Vicky Garcia, COO and co-owner of Cruise Planners. “The cruise industry continues to be singled out by the CDC — resorts, hotels, theme parks, restaurants and airlines are not having to defend their safe return to business at this caliber. We support the science-based plan that the cruise industry’s Safe Sail Panel presented to the CDC and believe these safety protocols puts public health and people first, including travelers, the crew and port employees.”
Garcia points to a recent ASTA study that shows that 73% of travelers who have taken a cruise within the past year are ready to go on a cruise now.
“Ultimately, it is up to individual travelers to determine their own risk assessment when it comes to any type of travel,” she said. “And while people are willing and ready to book and go on vacations, Cruise Planners travel advisors will be there to help them each step of the way — and our increased sales prove consumers are ready to travel.”
The Axios article also reports that a meeting is scheduled to take place on Friday, Oct. 2, between the Trump administration and cruise industry representatives to review plans to resume safe travel, which, for now, may be allowed to happen in November.