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US cruises could restart soon with 'passenger voyages by mid-July,' CDC says


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I think many of us commenting on restarts,  when or if that actually happens, have concluded that terminating the PHE declarations, both federal and state, are key to limiting CDC's unlawful authority to impose policy. No one here, anyway, and growing  numbers elsewhere, are asserting that the CDC's PH guidance is sound. Quite the opposite and especially as it pertains to its negative impact on state's efforts to return to normalcy. Government officials and the public are fed up with the confusing often contradictory CDC guidance. All of the authority in the CDC's guidance, both the appearance that it is lawful  and when it might actually be lawful, goes away with an end to federal and state declared PHEs. And to be clear while the CDC issues only guidance, under the PHE that guidance gives life to every lawful pandemic mitigation measure still unnecessarily in place, including the CSO. It also gives rise to the COVID fear monkey narrative that is driving unnecessary risk averse human behaviors. 

Having said that, this mornings news is filled with announcements of lock downs in Asia due to rising new cases. It reminds that COVID outbreaks are going to happen going forward and be disruptive to mobility and travel until vaccines are more widely available globally. It brings up the question if cruising restarts from US and European ports, resumes soon in Asia, what happens in the middle of a cruise itinerary when health authorities controlling the next ports, close them?

I suppose one adjusts but this circumstance is likely to be a big problem for cruise lines and cruisers alike. While in the short term we all want the CSO to go away and cruising from US and foreign port's to resume ASAP,  there will be times going forward, even as the pandemic fades when there may be no place to go.

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Eventually, a shift needs to happen with looking solely at case counts and the response from the government. Lockdowns and mask mandates have not shown to stop the spread of Covid. Just look at mask wearing compliance in Asia especially Japan yet cases are up. Targeted responses are much more effective. Protect the vulnerable. Vaccinate. Develop more therapeutics. Also when we hear case counts rising, we have no context. What is avg age of cases? And what % of these cases are asymptomatic? Are hospitals getting overwhelmed? 

Covid isnt Ebola. Covid isnt SARS with 15% mortality rate. We have lost perspective on Covid. Covid is endemic and will not go away. It will eventually be less harmful. Zero Covid is a fool's errand.

When it comes to cruising. Yes, precautions need to be taken but lessons need to be learned from this last year and policy needs to be adjusted to curb some of this abuse of power we have seen including the CDC. As I stated before, we cant turn public policy over to any one government agency. Turning the cruise industry on and off is not the answer to curbing case counts. It causes too much human collateral damage which in turn cause their own set of health issues when people are unemployed and cant afford proper preventative health care. We have been too hyperfocused on Covid while ignoring a vast array of other health issues that resulted from lockdowns. 

Its past time for the CDC to lift or strip away the most restrictive and unworkable parts of the CSO. 

 

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11 minutes ago, UNCFanatik said:

Eventually, a shift needs to happen with looking solely at case counts and the response from the government. Lockdowns and mask mandates have not shown to stop the spread of Covid

This.....and more. A good example of government overreaction to case counts, probably out of context, is Singapore's imposition of stricter mitigation measures on Quantum. What was the disease burden? Likely quite low but governments base line goal in some cases appears to be eradication rather than control. What's going on in Australia is another example of a PH policy goal that appears to accept near eradication, zero deaths, zero serious illness. None of those PH goals IMO are realistically achievable. So, yes, a "shift" is necessary.

TBH, that's going to be hard. 15+ months of hammering our brains with images of death and suffering, narratives of "dire consequences" isn't going to go away. It's baked into the minds of policy makers. I'm just not seeing the shift that's needed with PH officials who are likely to carry the pandemic trauma for years with that trauma influencing the issuance of bad PH policy in the future. 

I am seeing authors and scientists writing about a post pandemic world with the next virus pandemic just out of sight for now and the necessity of living with that, controlling it but not locking down to the extent of it for SARS2. That's encouraging but that's a long way from convincing governments to act rationally in the face of a fading SARS2 pandemic and the next viral threat that will most certainly come.

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For the first time, I'm now cautiously optimistic cruises might actually happen this summer. If Florida has said "we're not going to hold you up," it signals they're not going to try to enforce their vaccine passport rule if the cruise lines want to require vaccinations. Regardless of your feeling about that law, it could have resulted in another drawn out court battle between the state, the feds and the cruise lines. By acknowledging they don't have the authority to enforce that on cruise lines and clearing away that concern, now we're just waiting on a final thumbs up from CDC.

Still, the waiting game continues . . . 

[Edit: upon further review, I might have been a little overly hopeful and this is more narrow in scope than how I initially read it. 😃 Still, the more obstacles that start coming down, the better.]

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13 minutes ago, WesKinetic said:

If Florida has said "we're not going to hold you up," it signals they're not going to try to enforce their vaccine passport rule if the cruise lines want to require vaccinations.

Actually this is Florida saying "We don't feel that these shore agreements are necessary"

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8 minutes ago, smokeybandit said:

Actually this is Florida saying "We don't feel that these shore agreements are necessary"

You may be right (I'm not a Florida attorney). I was looking at the language where they say "Nothing in state law stands in the way of cruise ship operations." But, the more I read that, I can see how that is somewhat in the eye of the beholder. 

I'm just hoping for a path forward soon. While I have my personal feelings, I think it's a lot less important what hoops the cruise lines have to jump through than it is that they finally KNOW and have clear guidance about what hoops they're going to have to jump through. 

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11 minutes ago, WesKinetic said:

You may be right (I'm not a Florida attorney). I was looking at the language where they say "Nothing in state law stands in the way of cruise ship operations." But, the more I read that, I can see how that is somewhat in the eye of the beholder. 

I'm just hoping for a path forward soon. While I have my personal feelings, I think it's a lot less important what hoops the cruise lines have to jump through than it is that they finally KNOW and have clear guidance about what hoops they're going to have to jump through. 

 

I think that language was a jab at the CSO since the shore agreements are legal agreements. And Florida is saying "you want us to enter legal agreements to which we have no legal need to do"

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Mark me as confused. The CSO stipulates two options between cruise lines and port service providers to meet the CDC's requirement to obtain contracts for such services: (1) negotiate contracts (I assume legally binding) (2) obtain letters from these service providers saying they won't negotiate contracts. 

The Rivkes letter does not address this. It simply says from a public health standpoint, RCG does not need to seek permission to sail. That's a ways from saying no contracts required. Moreover, the state PH director has no say regarding how RCG and port service providers interact.

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1 hour ago, twangster said:

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/2021/05/21/florida-tells-royal-caribbean-it-does-not-need-its-permission-cruise-ships-sail

Florida tells Royal Caribbean it does not need its permission for cruise ships to sail

Guess this is how FL DOH, as one of the local health authorities, is wording their statement indicating they are declining to participate on deliberations and/or sign the Phase 2A port agreement.

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19 minutes ago, JeffB said:

Mark me as confused. The CSO stipulates two options between cruise lines and port service providers to meet the CDC's requirement to obtain contracts for such services: (1) negotiate contracts (I assume legally binding) (2) obtain letters from these service providers saying they won't negotiate contracts. 

The Rivkes letter does not address this. It simply says from a public health standpoint, RCG does not need to seek permission to sail. That's a ways from saying no contracts required. Moreover, the state PH director has no say regarding how RCG and port service providers interact.

In lieu of documenting the approval of all local health authorities of jurisdiction, the cruise ship operator may instead submit to CDC a signed statement from a local health authority, on the health authority’s official letterhead, indicating that the health authority has declined to participate in deliberations and/or sign the Phase 2A port agreement, i.e., a “Statement of Non-Participation.”

 

1) It's on official letterhead.

2) It's signed

3) It's saying Florida has declined to participate and/or sign the port agreement

 

To me it fits the bill.

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22 minutes ago, smokeybandit said:

In lieu of documenting the approval of all local health authorities of jurisdiction, the cruise ship operator may instead submit to CDC a signed statement from a local health authority, on the health authority’s official letterhead, indicating that the health authority has declined to participate in deliberations and/or sign the Phase 2A port agreement, i.e., a “Statement of Non-Participation.”

 

1) It's on official letterhead.

2) It's signed

3) It's saying Florida has declined to participate and/or sign the port agreement

 

To me it fits the bill.

While mentioning the lawsuit 😉 

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All of these announcements this week are easy to group together, conflate intent and meaning and think RCG is getting close to a restart.

For my own peace of mind, this is my list of what is known: 

There's a lawful CSO.

RCG appears to be complying with its provisions and has communicated intent to start test cruises.

FL's request filed with the federal district Court to enjoin the CSO has been assigned to mediation.

Congress passed a bill temporarily suspending portions of the Jones Act which will temporarily suspend requirements for cruise ships enroute to Alaska from a US port to stop in Canadian ports. It's not the law yet.

FL has stated it will not participate in 2A requirements of the CSO regarding coordination with local health authorities. No permission from us is required to sail from FL ports. 

I'm not confident that the CSO's requirement for contracts between service providers who would deal with infected crew/pax e.g. hospitals, local hotels for quarantine, etc. Are covered by the Rivkes letter.

IOW, there are indicators things are moving toward a restart but not much has changed in terms of known start dates. Still all speculative and tentative.

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A rhetorical question to support a view that there's a lot of talk, a lot of it inconsistent and/or confusing and little action. I knew the answer before I asked it. 

BTW, I can't check in to my Apex cruise out of Athens where there's no CDC to deal with but rather a more reasonable Greek government and PH authority. It's 56d from today!

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7 minutes ago, twangster said:

Tell that to the people who expect luggage tags on day 89. 

I always spend a lot of time planning ahead for vacations. It's killing me to have to wait until the last minute to do all the normal things I would've done by now, check-in, tags, transport,  OBP, excursions, etc. 😬

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1 hour ago, JeffB said:

Mark me as confused. The CSO stipulates two options between cruise lines and port service providers to meet the CDC's requirement to obtain contracts for such services: (1) negotiate contracts (I assume legally binding) (2) obtain letters from these service providers saying they won't negotiate contracts. 

The Rivkes letter does not address this. It simply says from a public health standpoint, RCG does not need to seek permission to sail. That's a ways from saying no contracts required. Moreover, the state PH director has no say regarding how RCG and port service providers interact.

I agree Jeff, this letter does not meet the 2A requirement in my view. The language is vague and does not meet the burden that the CDC requested. It is not a refusal to negotiate as much as it is a rebuttal and disagreement to CDC guidance. 

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25 minutes ago, 0_0 said:

I always spend a lot of time planning ahead for vacations. It's killing me to have to wait until the last minute to do all the normal things I would've done by now, check-in, tags, transport,  OBP, excursions, etc. 😬

Frustrating and a huge deal to people that have to arrange flights, transfers, excursions & tours, etc. 

We do this to and amongst ourselves here but the lines have been vague and to some degree less than transparent. Sure, they have cause but the uncertainty is really bad PR. I don't buy the excuse they can't plan because the don't know. There are clear indications they know a whole lot more than the cruising public does. I think we have a right and reasons for complaining to the lines .... not that it will do any good. 

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