Major Cruising Associations Call on Biden Administration and CDC to Lift Cruising Restrictions
It’s hard to believe but a cruise has not departed from the United States in over one year due to the pandemic. Since then though, many cruises lines including Royal Caribbean have resumed cruising in other parts of the world with great success. The CDC issued a four phased “Conditional Sailing Order” back in October 2020 to get cruises back in the water from the United States but since then, they have gone silent. Just today, two major cruising associations including the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) have called on the Biden Administration and the CDC to lift the current restrictions and left cruises start cruising once again from the United States as early as July of this year.
When the CDC issued the phased Conditional Sailing Order back in October 2020, cruise lines scrambled to meet the requirements. The first phase of the order stated that all cruise ships would have to be equipped with an onboard laboratory that was capable of testing all crew members – which they did. The second phased called for simulated or test cruises to show their mitigation efforts in action with the third phase calling for the CDC to certify the mitigation strategies were acceptable. Finally, the fourth phase of the Conditional Sailing Order allowed passengers back onboard ships “in a manner that mitigates the risk of COVID-19 introduction, transmission, or spread among passengers and crew onboard ships and ashore to communities.”
As mentioned above, cruise lines put comprehensive plans in place to meet the CDC’s requirements for Phase one of the Conditional Sail Order but were left hanging on when the test or simulated cruises could begin.
This inaction by the CDC has has caused Kelly Craighead, CEO of CLIA, to release the following statement, “The outdated Conditional Sail Order, which was issued almost five months ago, does not reflect the industry’s proven advancements and success operating in other parts of the world, nor the advent of vaccines, and unfairly treats cruises differently. Cruise lines should be treated the same as other travel, tourism, hospitality, and entertainment sectors.”
Zane Kerby, President and CEO of ASTA, is also looking at the success of vaccines and the fact that nearly 25% of Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine with the number of fully vaccinated Americans growing daily as a solid improvement in the state of the state of pandemic to allow cruising once again.
Kerby said in his statement, “These facts, couple with early indications that vaccinated individuals are not likely to spread the virus, is a compelling reason to permit the resumption of cruises, especially considering the comprehensive hygiene and safety standards already put in place by the cruise lines.”
While cruise lines along with CLIA and ASTA wait on the CDC to move on to the next stage of the Conditional Sail Order or lift restrictions all together, some cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Line have made other plans to get Americans cruising again – from ports near but just outside of the United States.
Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas will begin offering 7-night Caribbean Cruises from Nassau, Bahamas beginning on June 5, 2021. Their Vision of the Seas will be offering 7-night cruises to Royal Caribbean’s private island, Coco Cay, from Bermuda beginning on June 26, 2021. Finally, Celebrity Cruise Line will offer 7-night Caribbean Cruises from St. Maarten beginning June 5, 2021 as well.
Currently, there are no plans to have Disney Cruise Line move ships to international ports like the cruise lines listed above.
Kerby with ASTA also touches on how South Florida is the world’s cruising capital and the local economy has been drastically impacted by the year long cruising suspension by the CDC. With people now flying to other destinations to take their cruises. it’s even hurting the livelihoods of South Florida communities even more.
“It is a shame that the CDC’s inflexibility has brought us to this point. We therefor call on the CDC to immediately lift its restrictions on cruising and set July 1 as the date that cruising can resume from U.S. ports.”
Richard Fain, Chairman and Chief Executive Office of Royal Caribbean Ltd., is also hoping that the test/simulated cruise phase by the CDC be waived and for cruises to set sail from the United States as soon as safely possible. He also notes that since the pandemic began they have had 100,000 passengers sail on cruises in other parts of the world with only 10 positive cases.
As far as Disney Cruise Line, they have said within the past few weeks that they are hopeful to have ships sailings again by this Fall. However, I am sure they would be more than happy for the CDC to lift certain restrictions and for cruises start up again this July. Currently, all Disney Cruise Line cruises are cancelled through May 2021 with Mediterranean cruises cancelled through August 10, 2021.
Make sure to keep it here with MickeyBlog as we continue to monitor this fluid situation. You can count on us to be announce when the CDC will once again allow cruising and Disney Cruise Line sets sail once again!
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Source Credit: CDC, Insider Travel Report and Travel Weekly