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Travel advisors growing impatient with the status of cruising and the lack of details surrounding its current stall — at least in the U.S. — and eventual resumption, are not alone.
Cruise lines have put their best foot forward to progress towards a safe restart with exhaustive health protocols presented to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but in response, the government agency has not provided concrete guidance to adhere to its latest “Framework for Conditional Sailing Order.” Other forms of travel have been given the green light while the order’s stipulated test sailings, let alone regular passenger ones, have not.
So, where exactly do things stand according to industry groups such as Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA)?
“Cruise operations in the U.S. have been suspended since mid-March 2020 and many CLIA members have said that they will remain suspended through April 2021, at least,” said Laziza Lambert, manager of strategic communications at CLIA.
According to Lambert, CLIA members have been in regular communication with CDC regarding care of crew as the industry awaits the additional guidance necessary to implement the specific requirements imposed under the “Framework for Conditional Sailing.”
As we evaluate next steps, including the timing of further resumption, we will continue to be guided by input from public health experts, appropriate government authorities and other critical industry stakeholders.
“As we evaluate next steps, including the timing of further resumption, we will continue to be guided by input from public health experts, appropriate government authorities and other critical industry stakeholders,” she said. “Our members share a common goal with CDC, which is to protect public health, and CLIA members are 100% focused on working productively to operationalize a path forward.”
Outside of endeavors to resume in the U.S., CLIA was taken aback by the updated duration of Canada’s cruise prohibition through February 2022.
“While we understand and support the government’s focus on combatting COVID-19 in Canada, we are surprised by the length of the extension of the prohibition of cruise,” said Charlie Ball, chair of CLIA-NWC, in a press release. “We hope to have an opportunity to revisit this timeline and demonstrate our ability to address COVID-19 in a cruise setting with science-backed measures, as CLIA members are doing in Europe and parts of Asia where cruising has resumed on a limited basis.”
In October 2020, ASTA was upbeat about CDC’s last update.
“CDC’s replacement of the draconian ‘No-Sail Order‘ with a framework for a phased resumption of cruise ship operations is a welcome development and a key milestone in the restart of the travel industry,” ASTA wrote in a statement. “We have petitioned the Administration and CDC over the course of nearly six months. Our ask: guidance on how cruise lines and travelers can manage health risks while cruising.”
RELATED: Agents and Clients Respond to New Cruise Vaccination RequirementsAccording to ASTA, travel advisors, consumers and others in the industry have had to deal with the catastrophic economic consequences of the No Sail Order for far too long. ASTA expressed a hope that CDC would work as expeditiously as possible with cruise lines, state and local public health authorities and other cruise community stakeholders to support the resumption of cruising from U.S. ports.
Now ASTA is asking for COVID-19 relief in the form of U.S. Congress’ help as it relates to Canada’s restrictions, “including changing existing laws to mitigate the impact of the Canadian government’s decision to suspend cruise operations in Canadian waters through February 2022 and to otherwise ensure the cruise industry in Alaska can resume operations as soon as possible.”
ASTA reiterates that this will only be helpful if CDC allows cruising to restart, which has yet to happen.
As Zane Kerby, president and CEO of ASTA, said last year in a press release, “the demonization of cruising must stop.”
The DetailsAmerican Society of Travel Advisorswww.asta.org
Cruise Lines International Associationwww.cruising.org