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Norwegian Cruise Line pushes CDC for an answer to their proposal to restart cruising

In:
15 Apr 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

More than a week after Norwegian Cruise Line submitted its plan to safely restart cruises from the United States to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there has been no answer.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH) called out the CDC on Thursday for not responding yet to their proposal.

On April 5, NCLH submitted a proposal that included 100% vaccination of guests and crew onboard, as well as strict health and safety protocols for all sailing through October 31, 2021.

Today, the company sent a "reminder letter" to the CDC requesting a response.

NCLH President and CEO Frank Del Rio wrote to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky that he is concerned about the lack of progress, calling the experience "frustrating".

"As you know, our industry had a meeting with your office on Monday, and while we appreciate the dialogue, our proposal was not addressed."

"Going forward, we understand the industry may be having regular meetings with your office but remain concerned that such meetings produce the nonexistent results they have had since last year."

NCLH believes by requiring vaccines of every single person onboard its ships initially, in addition to comprehensive protocols including universal COVID-19 testing, their plan exceeds the intent of the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order (CSO).

Read moreEverything we know about if Royal Caribbean will require a vaccine

Under NCLH's proposal, sailings would be able to commence from U.S. ports beginning July 4.

“Over the past year we have worked tirelessly and invested heavily to create a path to resume cruise operations including enlisting the guidance of the nation’s top scientific and public health experts. We are confident that with our science-backed SailSAFE program, we will offer a uniquely safe and healthy vacation experience which protects our guests, crew and communities we visit,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.

“We strongly believe our proposal submitted to the CDC 10 days ago, which includes mandatory vaccinations for all guests and crew, offers a safe and immediate solution to resume cruising and eliminates the need for the obsolete CSO, which in its current form is impossible to operationalize and more importantly ignores the advancement of vaccines. Our proposal goes well above and beyond the intent of the CSO and would greatly accelerate the path to resume cruising while freeing up the CDC’s valuable time and resources, allowing it to focus on its many other competing public health priorities. I continue to await further discussion with the CDC and I am respectfully requesting a prompt response to my written proposal to recommence cruising in July allowing us to join America’s national reopening.” 

Norwegian's Plan

To get things going, NCLH has proposed the most stringent policies yet by any North American cruise line.

The plan has five major components:

  1. NCLH will require that all guests embarking from a U.S. port and/or disembarking to a U.S. port provide proof of having been fully vaccinated with an FDA-, EMA-, or WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine no less than two weeks prior to their departure date;

  2. All crew on NCLH vessels will be fully vaccinated with an FDA-, EMA- or WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine at least two weeks prior to commencement of their duties onboard their assigned vessel;

  3. NCLH will also incorporate and operationalize the protocols developed by the Healthy Sail Panel (“HSP”), led by former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt and former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Dr. Scott Gottlieb. These protocols, include universal testing of guests and crew, combined with required vaccines for all guests and crew, thereby creating a safe, “bubble-like” environment; and

  4. On or about July 4, 2021, NCLH vessels will begin cruise operations at an initial reduced capacity of 60%, gradually ramping up our fleet departing from U.S. ports and increasing capacity by 20% every 30 days.

  5. These stringent requirements will remain in place until public health conditions allow for the implementation of more lenient protocols.

Without a doubt, NCLH's plan is centered around the Covid-19 vaccine, "vaccinations are the primary vehicle for Americans to get back to their everyday lives while containing the spread of the virus. As such, our robust science-backed plan combines mandatory vaccinations for all guests and crew with multiple additional layers of preventative protocols, including universal COVID-19 testing."