If you are one of the many cruise fans waiting anxiously for when cruises might resume, there are three important dates to keep an eye on over the next few weeks and months.
It seems like every day something is changing related to government or corporate policy, and the situation is so fluid that it is difficult to keep an eye on exactly what will happen and when.
Just this week, Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said in a video that he feels, more positive that we may be within sight of the end."
So if you are waiting for more news on cruises starting up, here are three important dates to monitor.
No Sail Order expiration: September 30
The U.S. Center for Disease Control "No Sail" Order is set to expire on September 30 (unless rescinded earlier), and that is a critical date for the cruise industry.
This is one of the major reasons cruises have not restarted in the United States, and it may even be a major reason why there has not really been any kind of firm talk of a timetable for cruises to start.
At the risk of jinxing things, we are just a couple weeks away from the order being lifted, which would be a major obstacle lifted for the cruise industry.
Similar to Groundhog Day, an extension means many weeks more of no cruising, but a lifting of the order would open the door for cruise lines.
Healthy Sail Panel recommendations submission: End of September
By the end of this month, two important things should occur: the conclusion of the CDC's open comment opportunity and the Healthy Sail Panel's subsequent recommendations for new policies.
In late July, the CDC began accepting comments from the public on cruise lines resuming passenger operations. The public has until September 21 to send in comments.
The Royal Caribbean Group assembled a blue ribbon panel of health experts, known as the Healthy Sail Panel, which are tasked with guiding Royal Caribbean with new recommendations on how to start cruising again safely.
The Healthy Sail Panel is waiting for the CDC comment period to end, before taking into account any new recommendations or policies that come out of that exercise.
"The Healthy Sail Panel is working diligently on recommendations for cruise health and safety," Royal Caribbean said in a recent statement. "The CDC’s open comment period ends on September 21 and the panel is taking that additional time to do its work."
All cruise lines need to submit a set of new policies and procedures to the CDC that will keep guests and crew safe once sailings resume, and you can argue that this is among the most important milestones for Royal Caribbean to hit, since it has such a deep impact.
Operational restart: November 1
You might say the November 1st date of cruises resuming that Royal Caribbean has stated is a pipe dream or a moving target, but for all intents and purposes, it is the de facto date we have to work with in terms of cruises starting.
Since cruises shutdown in March, we have seen lots of date targets come and go for when Royal Caribbean aims to start cruising again, but in a "best case scenario" of the two big dates mentioned earlier in this article being on-time, the November 1st date maybe/could/should/might be the proverbial "light at the end of the tunnel".
There are a lot of logistics that have to come into play for this to occur, but no one can deny that November 1st is still the line in the sand of when something might occur.
Essentially, we cannot ignore it, even if it is likely to change.