The cruise industry is an all-out offensive to do what they can to get the word out there for cruise ships to be able to sail again.
Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) CEOs both took to television interviews in the last couple of days to highlight the different rules the cruise industry faces compared to other forms of travel.
Over the last few weeks, the cruise industry has gone on the offensive to demonstrate to the public the lengths the cruise lines are going to keep everyone safe on a ship while the proposals falling on deaf ears.
NCLH CEO Frank Del Rio spoke on CNN and talked about how cruise lines simply wanted to be treated fairly, "There are many, if not all, travel, tourism and hospitality venues that are open throughout the country, that never shut down or certainly open today."
"The CDC is is not cooperating up to now. And so I think it's time that the cruise industry, the people, understand the plight that we're under."
"Why should we be different?"
Mr. Del Rio pointed out NCLH's proposal to U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to require every person on its ships be vaccinated so that its ships can cruise by July, but Del Rio says they have heard nothing back.
Their plan calls for 100% vaccination of guests and crew onboard, as well as strict health and safety protocols for all sailing sailing through October 31, 2021.
"I challenge you to tell me another venue on Earth where you can be guaranteed that everyone inside that venue, whether it's a grocery store or an office building, a school, a resort, a casino, a hotel, everyone is vaccinated, protected. And on top of that, you layer in this multi pronged seventy four protocols developed by the best scientific minds in America. What could possibly be safer than that?"
Mr. Del Rio's comments come just a day after Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain spoke on CBS about his cruise line's preparations to sail again.
"All the cruise lines are working towards the best protocols that includes new ways of circulating air and filtration, includes cleanliness, ways to clean areas. It includes testing," Fain said.
Mr. Fain points to the extensive safety protocols cruise ships are proposing as being superior to anywhere else on land, "Nobody can guarantee anybody is safe from COVID anywhere in America or anywhere else. Actually, the irony is, if you go on a ship, you're going to reduce your risk of coming down with the virus."
The cruise industry offensive against the CDC's inaction has seen strong and stronger rhetoric following months in which executives avoided discussing the CDC's approach.
After five months of no updates, and even a token update last week with no tangible changes, the industry has been turning up the heat.
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) called on the U.S. government to once again lift the Conditional Sail Order (CSO), rather than continue with the CDC's plan.
Moreover, CLIA is imploring everyone in the cruise industry, as well as cruise fans) to tell Congress cruise ships deserve to sail.
CLIA has set up a form that anyone can use to contact their representatives at http://bit.ly/ReadytoSail
Royal Caribbean sent an email to past cruisers on Friday asking for their support, "If you’re ready to see cruising return, we urge you to call, email and tweet your Senators and U.S. Representatives in support of lifting the CDC’s Conditional Sail Order (CSO) and allowing healthy cruising to resume from the U.S. by the beginning of July 2021."
Royal Caribbean will restart cruises this summer from The Bahamas, and is working on making getting to and from Nassau easier.
Flights to Nassau are not necessarily as plentiful as some would like, and Royal Caribbean is working to secure "bulk rate sales of seats" for cruise passengers.
The Nassau Guardian Business is reporting Bahamasair Chairman Tommy Turnquest confirmed his airline and Royal Caribbean are working together.
"I can tell you that Bahamasair is working with Royal Caribbean on Saturday flights. We’re going to have two flights out of Miami, one flight out of Fort Lauderdale and one flight out of Orlando to coincide with when the ship will arrive at 7 o’clock on a Saturday morning and leave 9 o’clock that night."
"We have begun negotiations with them and we’re very pleased with how that’s going. We will provide them with some airlift. We think it’s an opportunity to get out of the doldrums and we are very optimistic about that."
While cruises from the United States remain at a standstill due to regulation of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), places like the Bahamas are now homeports. However, the logistics for cruisers to reach this area is still somewhat difficult.
Royal Caribbean sells guests airfare through its Air2Sea program, which is actually offering discounted rates to guests in order to spur sales.
When Royal Caribbean announced cruises from Nassau, they knew demand for flights would be strong and possibly even outpace supply. So they worked with select airlines to not only secure seats but actually subsidize prices.
Royal Caribbean pushed back the departure time of Adventure of the Seas in order to provide guests more time to get to Nassau.
Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley told Bahamian media that he estimates almost 2,000 people could travel to/from Nassau's airport every weekend when cruises begin.
Doing some "back of the napkin math", Adventure of the Seas can accommodate about 3,300 passengers at double occupancy or 4,000 at maximum capacity. This means "almost 2,000" suggests somewhere around 45% - 60% of ship capacity.
An evacuation order has been ordered for the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, and Royal Caribbean has already sent a cruise ship to assist in evacuating residents.
St. Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalve issued an evacuation order after seismologists declared a "red alert" due to an impending eruption from La Soufrière.
Based on marine traffic websites, Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas is headed to the island according to local officials.
Update: Royal Caribbean Group issued a statement confirming the support of Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises vessels.
Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises are sending ships to St. Vincent in the Caribbean to evacuate residents currently at risk from a potential eruption of the island’s La Soufriere volcano which has seen increasing activity in recent days.
Both cruise lines are working closely with St. Vincent authorities to assist residents most at risk. Royal Caribbean International’s Serenade of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Reflection are on their way to the island nation and are expected to arrive later this evening to assist with evacuation efforts.
All precautions will be taken to protect the health and safety of the crew and passengers who board our ships.
According to a local Twitter account, the Serenade of the Seas will arrive to help with the evacuation tonight.
Carnival Cruise Line announced it was sending two of its ships to assist in efforts.
Carnival Cruise Line has agreed to send two ships to St. Vincent to support humanitarian efforts to evacuate residents who are under threat from the volcanic eruption of La Soufriere. Carnival Paradise should arrive to St. Vincent by 11 a.m. local time on Friday, and Carnival Legend should arrive by approximately 2 p.m. on Friday.
Each of Carnival's ships can handle up to 1,500 residents who will be transported to neighboring islands.
Experts became concerned about an eruption after monitoring stations reported long earthquakes that suggest fresh magma was trying to reach the surface. In addition, plumes of smoke can be seen emanating from the volcano.
La Soufrière’s most devastating eruption was in 1902 when about 1,600 people were killed.
Royal Caribbean has a long history of assisting Caribbean islands when natural disasters strike.
Whether hurricanes, earthquakes, or other calamities, Royal Caribbean has traditionally stepped up with humanitarian aid and assistance.
Most recently, the cruise line went to extraordinary lengths to assist the Bahamas following the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian. Royal Caribbean brough relief supplies and 20,000 daily meals to Grand Bahama Island in just the first week.
Some of their ships also assisted with evacuations to other islands in The Bahamas.
Florida is following through on its threat to sue the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in order to get cruise ships started up again.
Florida Governor Ron Desantis announced on Thursday the state is filing a lawsuit against the federal government, United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and CDC, demanding cruise ships be reopened immediately.
"Today, I'm happy to announce that on behalf of the tens of thousands of other Floridians, whose livelihood depends on the viability of an open cruise industry, today Florida is fighting back. We're filing a lawsuit against the federal government and the CDC, demanding that all cruise ships be reopened immediately."
At a press conference in Miami, the Governor and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced the new legal fight.
The lawsuit is an attempt to get the CDC to drop the Framework for Conditional Sail Order (CSO), which is not allowing cruise ships to sail despite airlines, theme parks, casinos, and rail to operate without any hindrance.
Ms. Moody elaborate who this lawsuit is directed against, "We have filed suit this morning just before meeting with you here today, against the administration, HHS and the CDC, demanding that the court find that this effective No Sail Order is unlawful and allow our cruises to resume safely."
Just a few weeks ago, Governor DeSantis threatened legal action at a press conference with every major cruise line CEO, but today that threat has become a reality.
Read more: Why does the CDC regulate the cruise lines?
DeSantis criticized how long cruises have been shutdown without any end in sight, "I don't think you can just indefinitely shutter major, major businesses and cost all these jobs. So we want a way forward."
"We have people flying on airplanes, they're on buses, hotels, restaurants, theme parks, casinos, bars, you name it. But somehow the cruise is viewed as differently."
DeSantis pointed out to how effective the Covid-19 vaccine is, and believes that alone is proof enough to get cruises going again.
Compounding the issue are Americans traveling abroad to cruise instead of sailing from Florida.
Ms. Moody is concerned that trend will continue if nothing is done, "If we do not do this, you will see cruises continue to move these cruises to other countries."
Governor DeSantis believes the CDC has no right to shutdown the cruise industry for this long, given the "very little evidence and very little data" provided by the agency.
Royal Caribbean has joined the fray of other cruise lines that have thrown in the towel and cancelled many of their June cruises.
While a handful of ships will be able to sail outside of the United States in June, most of the cruises scheduled in June were officially cancelled.
Royal Caribbean announced it has cancelled all of its cruises through June 30, 2021, excluding sailings onboard Quantum, Spectrum, Voyager, Anthem, Adventure, Vision, Jewel, and Odyssey of the Seas.
The exception to the new round of cancellations are the few ships that will be homeported outside the United States and confirmed to be sailing this summer including:
- Adventure of the Seas from Nassau, Bahamas
- Vision of the Seas from Bermuda
- Odyssey of the Seas from Haifa, Israel
- Quantum of the Seas from Singapore
- Jewel of the Seas from Cyprus (beginning in July)
- Anthem of the Seas from Southampton (beginning in July)
Royal Caribbean's decision to cancel its June cruise comes weeks after a number of other cruise lines cancelled their June cruises, including Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, and Carnival Cruise Line.
Guests affected by the cancelled cruises between June 1 - 30, 2021, have three options for compensation.
Lift & Shift: Move to a qualifying 2022 sailing between May 18th, 2022 – June 15th, 2022 on the same itinerary, sailing length, embarkation port, stateroom category and departing within 2-weeks of the original sail date and your client's cruise fare/promotion is protected. This option is available until April 22, 2021.
125% Future Cruise Credit: To account for the inconvenience this has caused, guests are eligible for a 125% Future Cruise Credit (FCC) that is based on the total cruise fare paid at the guest-level if neither of the other options is selected.
Taxes and fees, as well as any pre-purchased amenities or onboard packages, will be automatically refunded to the original form of payment within 45 days from the cancelation date.
Additionally, if you redeemed your Cruise with Confidence Future Cruise Credit on a sailing that is now cancelled, their original FCC will be reinstated, plus 125% of any amount paid by the guest on the cancelled reservation.
Refund: If you prefer a cash refund, you can do so by requesting this option on-or-before June 30, 2021.
You can expect their refund to the original form of payment within 45 days from the cancellation date.
If you redeemed a Cruise with Confidence Future Cruise Credit on an impacted sailing and would now prefer a refund instead, Royal Caribbean will process this request in the amount of any new funds paid above the original certificate and, in turn, will reinstate the Cruise with Confidence FCC for future use.
Cruise Planner Purchases: If you had purchased any cruise add-ons, such as shore excursions, drink packages, wifi and more, you could opt to convert your Cruise Planner purchases to an Onboard Credit valued at 125% of the total amount paid. This offer expires on April 22, 2021.
When will the CDC let cruise ships sail from the United States?
The struggle to get permission for cruise ships to sail from the United States has never been more contentious than right now.
Over the past few weeks, a number of cruise industry leaders, legislators, local politicians and public officials have all called on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to allow cruise ships to sail again.
Overwhelmingly, the push to get cruise ships operational again has been due to sweeping new health protocols, along with the rest of the travel sector already open and running.
The CDC has not provided any kind of a resumption schedule for cruise ships, leaving the industry in limbo.
Ultimately, no one knows when cruises might actually restart from the U.S., but hopefully there will be a path forward soon.
There are summer 2021 cruises you can actually go on
If your June cruise was cancelled and now you want to find another sailing that will actually sail, there are a few ships to choose from.
Royal Caribbean has redeployed a few of its cruise ships to get around the CDC, and these ships are open for booking by Americans to sail this summer.
Yes, there will be cruises you can go on this summer, they just will not be departing or visiting any U.S. ports.
Adventure of the Seas will begin sailing first, offering 7-night cruises from Nassau, Bahamas on June 12, 2021.
Vision of the Seas will also begin sailing in June, with 7-night cruises from Bermuda beginning on June 26, 2021.
If you happen to live in Israel, Odyssey of the Seas will be sailing from Israel, but these are open to Israeli residents only.
Quantum of the Seas continues to sail from Singapore, but it is only bookable by Singaporean residents.
When comparing how the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is treating the cruise industry versus other aspects of travel, there appears to be a massive double standard.
President and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Kelly Craighead spoke to travel agents during a webinar on Wednesday and was asked why is cruise shutdown by the CDC while hotels, theme parks, airlines and casinos are able to operate.
While Ms. Craighead conceded she does not have direct insight into what anyone at the CDC may be thinking, she believes cruise ships have become an unfortunate symbol of Covid-19 stemming from the early days of the pandemic. Specifically, the cruise ships in Asia and Australia that were denied entry by government to treat anyone onboard for Covid-19 and as a result, the ship was left isolated without recourse.
"Cruise was an early symbol of the pandemic and the impact to them [CDC], I think, ...understandably put them in a mindset of zero risk."
"As you've seen with other industries, the name of the game now really needs to be about mitigating risk."
Ms. Craighead's comments are in reference to the airline industry, which is able to operate with the understanding that they take certain actions to limit risk, but it is acceptable that some cases may be present.
"The irony is that today an American can fly to any number of destinations to take a cruise, but cannot board a ship in the U.S." was a statement made by CLIA earlier this week.
Part of CLIA's aim is to change the notion of "one case is one too many" to cruise ships being treated the same as other forms of leisure travel.
"If we can shift the mindset into mitigating risk, understanding that everyone is trying to get back to business even while there's still a health emergency, is one of the cases we're trying to make."
In addition, Ms. Craighead thinks the significant effort to come up with substantive and stringent new health protocols for cruise ships is also lost in the mix.
"The protocols that are in place are really designed as all protocols for cruising are, is to go over and beyond and to point to how difficult it would be for covid to be on a ship, and how if Covid presented on a ship, that accommodations have been made in every respect, from ventilation to medical capabilities, to the prearranged contracted services that exist between the destinations, visitors and the health authority."
How realistic is July for cruises to restart?
Even if cruise lines received permission to sail, how realistic is July as a timeframe for cruises to be able to restart sailing?
Ms. Craighead said the ramp up would take "about 90 days" to get a ship ready for service, but the bigger issue is how soon cruise lines can get the go-ahead to start planning.
"Is July 1st realistic really depends on when we get the go ahead to cruise, because it takes about 90 days, for the most part to have the ships ready to sail following the stringent protocols that have been adopted by a cruise line members."
A key deadline for July cruises is May 1, according to Craighead.
"If we get the word by May 1st, we feel we can have ships ready by July 1st."
Why can't cruise lines ignore the CDC and start sailing now?
Some cruise fans have been wondering why can't cruise ships simply bypass the CDC and start sailing on their own accord without permission.
Ms. Craighead pointed out the emergency powers the CDC has due to the public health emergency created by Covid-19.
"They have emergency powers that we uniquely have to adhere to."
Brits can now book sailings on Anthem of the Seas for a summer holiday cruise.
Royal Caribbean has opened up bookings for its recently announced summer cruises aboard Anthem of the Seas.
Beginning with the July 7 sailing, Anthem of the Seas is open for bookings from her homeport of Southampton.
Anthem will sail three and four-night Ocean Getaways in July with five to eight-night British Isles cruises from July 15.
Guests can sail to destinations such as Liverpool, Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, and Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The new sailings range between the months of July and October 2021.
Cruises on Anthem of the Seas are open only to UK residents and you must be vaccinated to sail if you are at least 18 years old. Guests under the age of 18 will not need to be vaccinated but should show a negative test result.
Royal Caribbean says guests must not only have had the full inoculation, but also two weeks after the last shot.
Royal Caribbean International’s Ben Bouldin confirmed the requirements, "For adults, we are asking that all adults are vaccinated. That means they've had both vaccinations and they've had the required period of time, the two weeks post their second vaccination for that vaccination."
Royal Caribbean indicated the requiring the vaccine, and other health measures, "may evolve as they are evaluated on an ongoing basis."
Anthem of the Seas is one of many cruise lines that has pivoted its plans to offer cruises this summer from the UK exclusively to residents of that country.
Sister line Celebrity Cruises also recently put on sale its Celebrity Silhouette ship from Southampton as well.
Celebrity Silhouette will offer 6-, 7-, and 8-night cruises around the UK.
Ports of call will include Portland on the Jurassic Coast as well as Inverness and Glasgow, and Kirkwall on the Orkney Islands plus Belfast and Liverpool.
Moving plans around this summer has been Royal Caribbean's new game plan, with many governments still closing their borders to cruises.
Thus far, five Royal Caribbean ships have been re-deployed in order to offer cruises this summer.
- Adventure of the Seas from Nassau, Bahamas
- Vision of the Seas from Bermuda
- Jewel of the Seas from Cyprus
- Odyssey of the Seas from Haifa, Israel
- Anthem of the Seas from Southampton
Royal Caribbean will start its West Coast cruises earlier than expected.
The first Navigator of the Seas sailings will begin sailing year-round from Los Angeles, California as of November 2021.
When Royal Caribbean announced its return to the West Coast, initially the cruise planned to start sailing in June 2022, but will sailing now significantly easier.
Travel agents were notified of the change, which may explain why were there was a delay in the sailings going on sale last week.
These new itineraries will open for sale the week of April 12, 2021.
Royal Caribbean will offer 3-, 4- and 5-night itineraries to Catalina Island, California and Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – plus, select winter holiday 7-night sailings.
Navigator of the Seas will depart from Los Angeles' World Cruise Center in San Pedro.
The announcement that Navigator will begin cruises in November 2021 confirms the dates that were originally posted on the Port of Los Angeles website prior to Royal Caribbean's announcement.
In March 2021, the Port of Los Angeles website had sailings listed in November and December 2021.
After posting the information on this blog, the listings were removed shortly thereafter.
Returning after a decade
Royal Caribbean's announcement that it will cruise from Los Angeles regularly after more than a decade is significant, as industry insiders have speculated about its West Coast return for years.
While other cruise lines returned, Royal Caribbean stayed away, claiming it was able to make more money elsewhere.
In 2015, Freed pointed out the low rates competitor cruise lines were getting. "We always look at the West Coast. But we continue to look at the rates that the other cruise lines are getting, and we offer an experience that we can't afford to be selling at those low rates.
"If and when we see the rates start to bounce back, and we feel we can get paid for what we offer for our product, then we’ll be back there. But right now, unfortunately, it's a bath out there. They're selling four-day cruises at $199 per person, and we’re not just talking Carnival.
"We spend more on food, more on entertainment and more on our overall onboard experience [than other lines], and so we cannot be the low-price leader out in any market."
The line also cited the logistical challenges of returning its ships to the West Coast, much of which had to do with the rise of cruise popularity in other areas of the world, such as Europe and China. Sending ships to those locations meant fewer ships to go to other ports. (The West Coast has always been a seasonal market for ships repositioning from other regions.)
Another major cruise line has cancelled its June cruises, leaving just Royal Caribbean as one the "big three" cruise lines with June sailings on the books.
Carnival informed guests on Tuesday that it will extend its cruise cancellations from U.S. ports through June 30, 2021.
To provide flexibility for guests booked on July itineraries that remain in the schedule, Carnival is extending final payment deadlines for all July sailings to May 31, 2021, with the ability to cancel without penalty.
Norwegian Cruise Line also cancelled its June 2021 cruises back on March 16, 2021.
Prior to today's announcement, Carnival had cancelled cruises through May 31, 2021.
As it has done throughout the pause, Carnival is providing guests on cruises cancelled today the choice of a future cruise credit plus onboard credit package, or a full refund.
In their announcement, Carnival said, "We know that this is very disappointing to our guests who continue to be eager to sail, and we remain committed to working with the Administration and the CDC to find a workable solution that best serves the interest of public health."
Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy implored the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to treat the cruise industry fairly, "We are asking that the cruise industry be treated on par with the approach being taken with other travel and tourism sectors, as well as U.S. society at large."
Ms. Duffy also said there are no plans yet to base its ships outside the United States, but that option may become inevitable if things do not change, "While we have not made plans to move Carnival Cruise Line ships outside of our U.S. homeports, we may have no choice but to do so in order to resume our operations which have been on ‘pause’ for over a year."
"We appreciate the continued patience and support from our loyal guests, travel advisors and business partners as we work on a return-to-service solution."
Ms. Duffy was vocal about keeping ships sailing from the U.S. and not following Royal Caribbean's lead by sending ships outside the U.S. to restart.
In a meeting with Florida's Governor in March 2021, she was proud of the fact Carnival was making no such plans, "Here at Carnival we currently do not have any plans to move our ships away from their US homeports, I’ve always said Carnival Cruise Line is America’s cruise line."
"We sail from 14 US homeports, a significant number of our guests drive to their Carnival vacations, and we also sail with more families and children than any other cruise line."
What about Royal Caribbean?
Royal Caribbean has made no announcements yet about if it will cancel June 2021 cruises.
The line will be restarting operations in June on a few ships outside the United States including:
- Adventure of the Seas from Nassau, Bahamas
- Vision of the Seas from Bermuda
- Odyssey of the Seas from Haifa, Israel
Anthem of the Seas will restart in July, and Quantum of the Seas continues to sail from Singapore.
The rest of the ships and sailings scheduled from June are all still to be determined, although many in the cruise industry expect more cancellations.
Royal Caribbean rarely gives any kind of warning when a new set of cancellations are going to occur.
I believe it was the 20th century American philosopher, actor, rapper, and film producer Williard Carroll Smith Jr. who famously postulated, "Parents just don't understand", and clearly neither does the CDC.
While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) holds the cruise industry back from restarting sailings under the Framework for Conditional Sail Order (CSO), it has provided a litany of examples that it has failed to understand how cruise ships operate, as well as any grasp on the lengths cruise lines are will to go to keep everyone onboard safe.
Buried throughout the CDC's own documentation are instances of double standards, incorrect summarization, and just odd logic.
Behold the proof why after reading through the CSO, it is clear the CDC doesn't understand cruising.
The CDC thinks cruise ships are in the same category as prisons
Believe it or not, the CDC thinks cruise ships have more in common with prisons than airplanes.
The CDC released its Phase 2A technical instructions for cruise lines as part of its Framework for Conditional Sail Order (CSO) last week, and it said that, "for purposes of these instructions, CDC considers cruise ships to constitute a residential congregate setting."
The CDC defines a congregate setting as "a setting in which a group of usually unrelated persons reside, meet, or gather either for a limited or extended period of time in close physical proximity."
Some examples of a congregate setting include:
- Nursing homes
- Correctional facilities
- Places of worship
- Social settings
- Workplace settings
Since the CDC used the word "residential" to describe it, that infers somewhere that people stay overnight. So, we are left with nursing homes, correctional facilities, and perhaps shelters.
Even if you buy into the fact prisons and cruise ships are the same setting, that has not stopped prisons from opening up.
New York's Department of Corrections and Community Supervision announced it will resume visitation within its facilities starting Wednesday, April 28, 2021 in maximum security facilities, and all other locations on Saturday, May 1, 2021.
So you can go to Sing Sing, but not Symphony of the Seas.
CDC wants cruise lines to only use gangways once every 12 hours
What is the difference between a gangway to a cruise ship and a jetway to an airplane? Evidently a lot.
As part of the safety procedures the CDC recommends, the agency says to ensure passengers do not get too close, they say places such as gangways, terminal waiting spaces, and check-in areas should not be occupied within the same 12-hour period.
Airports use their jetways to get passengers from airplane terminals to airplanes hourly, and throughout the day. Certainly not with 12-hour spacing.
Even in a hospital, where known Covid-19 patients may be walking in, there is not a protocol to essentially close off a hallway/entryway for 12 hours at a time.
Moreover, revised guidance issued on Monday by the CDC said surface transmission of Covid-19 is low.
"It is possible for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects (fomites), but the risk is generally considered to be low."
The CDC really seems to see risk in a completely different light when it comes to cruise ships versus any other form on travel.
On the same day CDC issued new onerous requirements for the cruise industry, five months after the original order, CDC issued relaxed guidance for domestic and international travel due to vaccination progress and recognition of the improved public health environment.
The CDC said fully vaccinated people can travel internationally without getting a COVID-19 test before travel unless it is required by the international destination.
As the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) pointed out, the CDC's approach to cruises seem to reflect a zero-risk objective rather than the mitigation approach to COVID that is the basis for every other U.S. sector of our society.
CDC wants cruise lines to do things they're already doing
You might think new instructions would help shape the direction cruise lines can go, but a great deal of these are already being done or committed to by the cruise lines.
One major area of Phase 2A of the technical instructions has to do with agreements with local authorities in the event of a positive case onboard.
Creating planning materials for agreements that port authorities and local health authorities must approve to ensure cruise lines have the necessary infrastructure in place to manage an outbreak of COVID-19 on their ships to include healthcare capacity and housing to isolate infected people and quarantine those who are exposed.
Royal Caribbean has been doing that since they restarted cruises with Quantum of the Seas in Singapore in December 2020. Royal Caribbean and Singapore have an agreement to rapidly get infected people isolated and then off the ship for medical attention, while then attending to the rest of the crew and passengers to ensure they are healthy.
We saw this plan in action when a false positive case was reported on Quantum of the Seas.
When Royal Caribbean announced it would restart sailings in The Bahamas and Bermuda this summer.
In the event of COVID-19-related expenses, Royal Caribbean will cover onboard medical treatment, cost of any required land-based quarantine, and travel home for you, your travel party, and any confirmed close contacts
Another requirement is "establishing a plan and timeline for vaccination of crew and port personnel."
In the United States, President Joe Biden has already committed to any American adult who wants to can be vaccinated by May, so that covers any port personnel in the U.S.
Moreover, Royal Caribbean has said in February 20201 that it intends to vaccinate all of its crew members.
Ignoring evidence new health protocols work
Perhaps most glaring is the fact the CDC has not taken into account the sizable sample size of data from cruises operating around the world with stellar results.
Nearly 400,000 passengers have already sailed from Europe and parts of Asia since last summer, following stringent, science-based protocols that resulted in a far lower incident rate than on land (fewer than 50 confirmed cases of COVID-19 onboard).
Quantum of the Seas has had over 50,000 guests sail onboard with zero positive Covid-19 cases to date.
This approach by the CDC does not recognize the public health advances that have been made over many months, including the ability to effectively mitigate risk on cruise ships.
Moreover, Royal Caribbean has demonstrated it is willing to require adults to be vaccinated for its sailings this summer outside the U.S., and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings proposed it would commit to only fully vaccinated passengers onboard.