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Report: CDC will issue new guidance for cruise ships "shortly"

02 Apr 2021
Matt Hochberg

Believe it or not, it looks like perhaps the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) may be giving cruise lines instructions on how to resume sailings.

Miami-Dade mayor Daniella Levine Cava posted on social media that she had a conversation with the CDC Director, who informed her the agency will be providing cruise lines "shortly" with new guidance.

"We are excited that the CDC will shortly be issuing new guidelines for a restart of cruising," Mayor Cava said in a statement.

It does not appear the CDC will go as far as to scrap the Framework for Conditional Sail Order(CSO) all together, as the cruise industry as hoped. Rather, guidance for the next phases, including how Covid-19 vaccines will be accounted for, will be issued in the next few days.

"We are excited that the CDC will shortly be issuing new guidelines for a restart to cruising, taking into consideration the advancements made possible by the vaccine, and we are eager to work with the CDC and cruise industry as a positive partner and a resource. Some may want to sue, but we want to sail, and we are ready to collaborate to make sure the Cruise Capital of the World can lead the way to rebuild this critical industry. "

More than a week ago, Mayor Cava sent a letter to the CDC in order to get an answer about when cruises might restart

Her letter, along with a flurry of statements and letters from other politicians and cruise industry officials, have been a vocal show of support for cruise lines that remain shutdown for well over a year due to CDC regulation.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava

The issue many, including Mayor Cava, have pointed out is the fact cruise lines were given a four phase plan to restart cruises in October 2020, and are still stuck in phase one.

Cruise industry organization Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has been leading the charge lately to get cruise ships going again by imploring the public to reach out to elected officials to compel the CDC to open things up.

CLIA's goal was to get the CSO lifted so that cruises could resume in July.

Update: The CDC has updated the Conditional Sail Order with new instructions

Cautious optimism

Mayor Cava's statement is refreshing, but cruise lines are far from able to announce a restart of sailings from the U.S. yet.

Ever since the CDC replaced the No Sail Order with the CSO in October, there have been many points along the way that seemed to indicate cruise ships might get the green light, only for those hopes to be dashed when nothing happened.

A very public example of this was back in February 2021 when Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley told investors he was expecting technical instructions from the CDC for the next phase of operations "any day".

"We're literally expecting the technical specifications any day soon," Mr. Bayley told investors.

While Mayor Cava's statement is encouraging, there has been no official statement by the CDC regarding anything related to cruise ships.