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It’s official: Cruise ships can once again sail from North America.
One day before Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “No-Sail Order” was set to either be extended or expire, the government agency issued a new “Framework for Conditional Sailing Order,” permitting a gradual resumption of operations beginning on Nov. 1.
"The initial phases will consist of testing and additional safeguards for crew members,” reads the new order. “CDC will ensure cruise ship operators have adequate health and safety protections for crew members while these cruise ship operators build the laboratory capacity needed to test future passengers."
Subsequent phases will include simulated voyages to test cruise ship operators’ ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk, certification for ships that meet specific requirements and a phased return to cruise ship passenger voyages in a manner that mitigates COVID-19 risk among passengers, crew members and U.S. communities.”
In other words, cruises can resume but not immediately with passengers. While Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) voluntary pause of member sailings also ends Oct. 31, a later resumption is consistent with individual cruise lines’ recent cancellations into December.
For example, Carnival Cruise Line recently cut its Miami and Port Canaveral, Fla., voyages from its November calendar, and Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International did the same globally.
Cruise lines are hoping the month of November should provide enough time for them to prove to CDC the effectiveness of their proposed measures included in such documents as the “Healthy Sail Panel,” which was developed by Royal Caribbean Group in collaboration with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., as well as CLIA’s own industry-wide recommendations.
As CDC opens this window to allow sailings to resume soon, more details are sure to emerge from cruise lines that are eager to welcome back guests onboard.