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CDC keeps highest warning level possible against going on a cruise ship

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14Apr2021

The CDC may be dragging their feet on providing cruise lines a path forward, but their warning to the public to avoid cruise ship travel has been updated.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated their "COVID-19 and Cruise Ship Travel" webpage with recommendations for anyone going on a cruise this summer.

In November 2020, the CDC warned the public to avoid going on any cruise ship because of "very high level of COVID-19". That warning has not changed, and the agency provided advice for anyone that does so anyway.

"At this time, CDC still recommends avoiding any travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide, because the risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high."

"It is especially important that people with an increased risk of severe illness avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises. Cruise passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, and outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported on cruise ships because of their congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads easily."

The CDC maintains its Level 4 warning for cruise travel, while not recommending unvaccinated people avoid domestic air travel at all. It's advice for international air travel for unvaccinated people is to get vaccinated without any high level warning at all.

The CDC's "congregate settings" description of cruise ship travel is the same definition it uses for prisons, nursing homes, workplace settings and more.

Read more5 ways the CDC proves it doesn't understand cruise ships

CDC's advice for anyone going on a cruise this summer

If you choose not to heed the CDC's advice, the agency did update its recommendations for cruise travel.

Before you travel:

  • Get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if a vaccine is available to you.
    • People are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after a single dose in a one-dose series or last dose in a two-dose series.
  • Get tested with a COVID-19 viral test 1–3 days before your departure, even if you are fully vaccinated.
    • If you test positive, isolate and do NOT travel.

While you are traveling:

  • Stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you. It’s important to do this everywhere—both indoors and outdoors.
  • Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when you are in shared spaces. Masks are required on planes, cruise ships, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports, seaports, and train and subway stations.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, stay in your cabin, and notify the onboard medical center immediately.

If you are returning to an international port or disembarking an international river cruise:

  • Your return travel plans may be impacted. Foreign health officials may implement formal quarantine procedures if they identify a case of COVID-19 aboard your cruise ship.
  • If you travel on a cruise ship or river cruise and disembark in a foreign port, you might not be able to receive appropriate medical care or be medically evacuated if you get sick.
  • Some countries might refuse to dock your ship or allow passengers to disembark.

If you return to the United States by air:

  • All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the United States.

After you travel:

If you are fully vaccinated: 

  • Get tested 3–5 days after your trip.
  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days after travel; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
  • You do NOT need to stay home and self-quarantine aftr cruise travel.

If you are not fully vaccinated:

  • Get tested 3–5 days after your trip.
  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days after travel; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
  • Stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days after cruise travel, even if you test negative.
  • If you do not get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after cruise travel.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

Cruise lines new health protocols

Reading through the warning, the CDC makes no mention of any new health protocols and essentially talks about going on a cruise in the same manner they existed before the pandemic began.

Other than recommending getting fully vaccinated before the cruise (which is something many cruise lines are requiring this summer), there is no mention of enhanced cruise ship protocols aimed at preventing the spread onboard.

Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings teamed up to form a panel of scientists and public health experts to craft a strategy for cruises to sail as safe as possible during the global health crisis.

The Healthy Sail Panel that created these new rules is chaired by Governor Mike Leavitt, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Recommendations include testing, the use of face coverings, and enhanced sanitation procedures on ships and in terminals. 

The Healthy Sail Panel identified five areas of focus every cruise operator should address to improve health and safety for guests and crew, and reduce the risk of infection and spread of COVID-19 on cruise ships:

  • Testing, Screening and Exposure Reduction
  • Sanitation and Ventilation
  • Response, Contingency Planning and Execution
  • Destination and Excursion Planning
  • Mitigating Risks for Crew Members

Moreover, Norwegian Cruise Line petitioned the CDC recently to only allow fully vaccinated people onboard its ships this summer, to which they have not received an answer yet.

Royal Caribbean is requiring all adults on its ships be fully vaccinated to sail this summer (except Quantum of the Seas from Singapore).

Royal Caribbean cancels most cruises in June

In:
Category: 
08Apr2021

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.

Read moreWhat you should do now that Royal Caribbean cancelled your cruise

Compensation

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.

5 ways the CDC proves it doesn't understand cruise ships

In:
Category: 
06Apr2021

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:

  • Schools
  • Nursing homes
  • Correctional facilities
  • Places of worship
  • Hospitals
  • Shelters
  • Social settings
  • Workplace settings

Source: CDC

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."

Risk

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.

Cruise industry rejects new CDC technical instructions & calls them "unworkable"

In:
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05Apr2021

The cruise industry has renewed its call for cruise ships to be able to sail again, calling new federal instructions "disappointing".

On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued new technical instructions after many months of silence, but the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) today responded to them as not helpful.

In a statement, CLIA called on the U.S. government to once again lift the Conditional Sail Order (CSO), rather than continue with these steps.

CLIA represents nearly every major ocean, river, and specialty cruise line, including Royal Caribbean.

In short, CLIA called out the technical instructions, "The new requirements are unduly burdensome, largely unworkable, and seem to reflect a zero-risk objective rather than the mitigation approach to COVID that is the basis for every other US sector of our society."

Read more: Read the technical instructions

CLIA pointed out the glaring double standards that the cruise industry faces compared to every other form of travel.

"Moreover, the instructions are at odds with the approach the CDC and governments in other parts of the world apply to all other travel and tourism segments in mitigating the risk of COVID-19."

"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."

CLIA reitterated not only its call to lift the CSO, but also reminded the CDC about the working examples of cruise ships that have been able to operate around the world with extremely low cases onboard.

"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."

CLIA believes a joint effort can restart sailings faster and with the health and safety in mind of all passengers, crew, and local communities than continuing with the CSO.

"CLIA urges the Administration to consider the ample evidence that supports lifting the CSO this month to allow for the planning of a controlled return to service this summer. If anything, the announcement last Friday is a clarion call for closer cooperation and coordination among stakeholders to achieve the President’s goal of reaching a ‘new normal’ by the Fourth of July.

"Working together, we can avoid the negative consequences that come when cruising, and the workers who support it, are not afforded the same opportunities as other workers in industries with far fewer practices in place to provide for public health and well-being."

The new technical instructions were as disappointing as Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley had feared they would be.

Last week, Mr. Bayley used the word, "worried" to describe what the CDC may tell cruise lines to do if they actually provided any kind of guidance.

"We're worried that the guidance that we're going to get is going to be pretty outdated."

Joining CLIA in its disappointment was Port Canaveral, whose CEO shared his disdain for the new instructions.

Captain John Murray, Port Canaveral CEO, issued a statement criticizing them, "We’re disappointed that this guidance for the cruise industry appears to be nothing more than an incremental step in a far-reaching process to resume passenger sailings in the U.S. with no definitive or target start date."

The Port of Galveston also voiced their displeasure with the new instructions.

Galveston Wharves CEO and Port Director Rodger Rees called on the CDC to lift the CSO citing the inaction by the agency, "As CEO and port director of the fourth most popular cruise port in North America and the only cruise port in Texas, I am joining Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), major cruise lines and many others in calling for the CDC to lift the Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) and allow safe, sustainable phased cruising to begin in July."

"The CDC has taken no action despite the following facts: millions of Americans are vaccinated; COVID case numbers in the U.S. have declined significantly in recent months; cruise ports and cruise lines have put measures in place for safe, sustainable cruising; cruising in markets around the world has resumed while preventing or limiting spread of the virus."

Michael Bayley addresses concerns of requiring Covid-19 vaccine on Royal Caribbean ships

In:
04Apr2021

Royal Caribbean has proudly announced the restart of some ships this summer outside of the United States, but the role of the Covid-19 vaccine for those sailings has some cruisers concerned.

Based on comments across social media, there is a vocal contingent of cruisers who are unwilling or unable to get the Covid-19 vaccine at this time.

As part of the March 2021 newsletter to Crown and Anchor Society members, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley addressed the undetermined role of a Covid-19 vaccine in the cruise line's overall plans.

Mr. Bayley acknowledged the issue in his message to guests, "I know there are questions when it comes to our future plans, health and safety re measures, vaccines and more. The current vaccine requirements for our new sailings this summer, in particular, have raised concerns."

"I want you to know that we understand. This environment we are in is one we're navigating as best we can with the ever-evolving information that tells us what will help reduce the chances of COVID-19 impacting any cruise."

He added that changes in protocols and the approach to the virus may change this summer, "There's nothing more we would like than to welcome everyone back on board and for today's needed measures, like vaccinations, to become unnecessary in the near future."

"We believe that much will change leading up to summer, and we're working through it all with the Healthy Sail Panel, public health experts and governments around the world."

"One thing is tor sure: Delivering memorable vacations is still what we do, and you, our crew and the communities we visit matter most."

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

Despite the fact all of the recently announced ships that will resume cruises this summer will require the Covid-19 vaccine, Royal Caribbean has been adimant no decision has been made if they will or will not require the vaccine across the fleet.

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain has said on a few occasions that nothing firm has been established, and things could very well change as the science evolves.

Most recently, Mr. Fain talked about the role of vaccines this summer during a webinar last week, "As the science continues to progress, I think we will change and we will adjust to that. And I think we're now trying to predict the future. Remember, these cruises don't start till June. And so we're starting on this basis that they will require vaccines, but that could change tomorrow."

"We do respond to the facts and the evidence, and so we started out on the new cruises that we've announced and they are going to require initially vaccines. But we don't know how long that will be a feature."

Royal Caribbean is not alone in its indecision. 

None of the major cruise lines have announced if they will or will not require the Covid-19 vaccine when they resume cruises.

Royal Caribbean will provide a Covid test for cruisers returning to the United States

In:
Category: 
03Apr2021

If you are headed on a Royal Caribbean cruise this summer from Bermuda, The Bahamas, or somewhere else, you can expect to get a negative Covid test before your cruise ends so you can go home.

One of the many extra steps required to cruise in 2021 is upon returning to the United States on an international flight, you need a negative Covid test result.  

Current U.S. requirements stipulate that returning international travelers must get tested no more than 3 days before re-entering the United States. 

Disembarkation day is difficult enough with everything going on, so how would cruise passengers find time to get a negative test before heading to the airport for a flight home?

It appears Royal Caribbean will take care of this for guests.

Read moreHere's what you need to do before going on your Adventure of the Seas cruise from The Bahamas

A new update to the cruise line's website indicates guests will undergo an antigen test onboard the ship at no additional cost so that its results can be used to re-enter the United States.

This test would only benefit someone flying home within 24 hours of departing the ship, for the test result to be within the valid window. 

Royal Caribbean says guests staying after their cruise will need to get their own test at their own expense.

The new printed policy follows up on a verbal promise to travel agents last week by Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed.

Ms. Freed said, "We will be providing those tests on board the ship at no cost to the guests so that they can re-enter the U.S."

The CDC requires anyone must have a negative COVID-19 test result before they board a flight to the United States and get a COVID-19 test 3 to 5 days after returning from international travel.

CDC issues first technical instructions to cruise lines for moving towards resuming cruises

In:
Category: 
02Apr2021

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued one part of its new technical instructions for cruise lines to move towards cruise ships sailing again from the United States.

Five months after the CDC issued its Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO), there has been no additional information provided for cruise lines to progress further.

An update to Technical Instructions for Mitigation of COVID-19 Among Cruise Ship Crew now includes, "CSO Phase 2A Routine COVID-19 Screening Testing of All Crew."

Essentially, the new instructions address crew members currently onboard ships sailing with more stringent and quicker pace of reporting to the CDC.

This will allow the CDC to more closely monitor ships and assign the proper color code to signify the ship's health status. 

In order to do this, the CDC requires daily submission of the “Enhanced Data Collection (EDC) During COVID-19 Pandemic Form”. This form is used by the CDC to monitor reports and outbreaks of Covid-19 on a ship.

The CDC also told cruise lines to "explore options to vaccinate crew for Covid-19", which is something Royal Caribbean and other lines have already committed themselves to doing.

A great deal of the instructions in Phase 2A deal with what cruise lines need to do when bringing new crew members onboard, as well as visitors or overnight contractors.

The color codes the CDC uses to categorize ships based on their health status has also changed, expanding their color code system include a new orange level that is between green and yellow.

Orange ship status in the absence of pre-existing Red ship status or a case report on the same day that would change the ship’s status to Red.

What about test cruises?

The new update only mentions simulated voyages once in the document, noting that in order for a cruise ship to get permission to board "non-essential crew", the CDC must verify that the cruise ship operator has documented the approval of all U.S. port and local health authorities where the ship intends to dock or make port during one or more simulated voyages or restricted passenger voyages. 

What this means is a cruise line must have an agreement with the U.S. port it will sail from that it has the capability for screening & testing of embarking crew and the quarantine and isolation of crew.

However, the CDC did include in its press release that the next phase of the CSO will include test cruises.

"The next phase of the CSO will include simulated (trial) voyages that will allow crew and port personnel to practice new COVID-19 operational procedures with volunteers before sailing with passengers."

Read moreEverything you need to know about Royal Caribbean test cruises

New changes after public pressure

It is hard to ignore the fact these changes come after a whirlwind week of government officials and industry leaders calling on the CDC to act and allow ships to sail again.

A variety of public statements, as well as the cruise industry calling on the public to tell elected officials to allow ships to sail again has come leading up to today's new instructions.

Most notably, Florida's Governor threatened to sue the CDC if things did not change, and the cruise industry organization set up a way for cruisers to contact legislators to ask for action.

The serious double standard remains

While today's action is a step forward in the academic sense of the word, cruise lines remain hopelessly shutdown for more than a year while every other facet of travel remains unhindered.

Airlines, theme parks, casinos, trains and more are allowed to operate as they see fit, with minimal Federal requirements to basic needs.

In fact, the airlines have rebuffed every attempt to institute testing of passengers onboard domestic flights, which is something cruise lines have committed to do since October 2020.

The CDC even acknowledged earlier today that fully vaccinated people have a low risk in terms of travel.

Meanwhile, cruises that have been able to restart sailings in Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific have carried  almost 400,000 passengers and had fewer than 50 based on public reports. 

CDC says travel for fully vaccinated people has "low risk"

In:
Category: 
02Apr2021

Could this be a major step towards getting cruise ships sailing again?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued new guidance on Friday that people that are fully vaccinated can safely travel at "low risk".

The new advice comes after months of the CDC urging all Americans to avoid any kind of non-essential travel.

The CDC’s new guidance says fully vaccinated people do not need Covid-19 tests before international travel unless it is required by the international destination and vaccinated people returning from foreign travel do not need to self-quarantine after returning to the United States, unless required by state or local authorities.

Grandparents that have been fully vaccinated can fly to visit grandkids without getting a Covid-19 test or self-quarantining as long as they follow CDC advice for traveling safely.

Specifically, the CDC provided the following guidance:

  • Fully vaccinated people can travel internationally without getting a COVID-19 test before travel unless it is required by the international destination.
  • Fully vaccinated people do not need to self-quarantine after returning to the United States, unless required by a state or local jurisdiction.
  • Fully vaccinated people should still have a negative COVID-19 test result before they board a flight to the United States and get a COVID-19 test 3 to 5 days after returning from international travel.
  • Fully vaccinated people should continue to take COVID-19 precautions while traveling internationally.

Why the change? Studies show the "real-world'' effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines.

There is no change on guidance for people that are not fully vaccinated. The CDC discourages non-essential domestic travel by those who are not fully vaccinated.

This announcement comes on the heels that the CDC will be issuing new guidance to cruise lines very soon so that they can resume service.

Apart from cruise lines, no other sector of travel has been subject to actually adhering to the CDC's guidance. Airlines, theme parks, casinos and hotels have all been able to do whatever they want in regard to their operations.

Meanwhile, the cruise industry remains shutdown in the United States due to CDC regulations.

Cruise lines have already committed themselves to 100% testing for all passengers and crewenhanced HVAC and air circulation, and a multi-faceted approach to mitigate the risk of spread on a cruise ship.

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

In:
Category: 
02Apr2021

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.

Cruise industry calls on CDC to let cruise ships sail again

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24Mar2021

A cruise industry association has called on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to let cruise ships restart.

CLIA officially called on the CDC to lift the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO), citing it being "outdated" and not reflective of current conditions.

Specifically, CLIA wants the CSO lifted so that cruise ships can restart sailings form the United States at the beginning of July, to match President Biden’s forecast for when the United States will be “closer to normal.” 

By lifting the CSO, cruise lines would not have to conduct test sailings, or any of the other requirements outlined by the CSO. Instead, cruise lines would implement new health protocols and rule changes aimed at making ships as safe as possible.

CLIA cites statistics of extremely low Covid-19 rates on cruise ships sailing elsewhere in the world as proof cruises can operate safely. Ships sailing in Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific have carried almost 400,000 passengers and had fewer than 50 based on public reports. This is "dramatically lower than the rate on land or in any other transportation mode."

Moreover, CLIA says the CDC has failed to follow through with the spirit of the CSO when it was implemented back in October 2020. Since then, the CDC has not released any further guidance, as called for in the CSO, to support the resumption of U.S. cruise operations.

"The lack of any action by the CDC has effectively banned all sailings in the largest cruise market in the world," CLIA said in a press release. "Cruising is the only sector of the U.S. economy that remains prohibited, even as most others have opened or continued to operate throughout the pandemic. "

"The outdated CSO, which was issued almost five months ago, does not reflect the industry’s proven advancements and success operating in other parts of the world, nor the advent of vaccines, and unfairly treats cruises differently. Cruise lines should be treated the same as other travel, tourism, hospitality, and entertainment sectors, " said Kelly Craighead, CLIA’s President and CEO.  

Proving CLIA's point, Carnival Cruise Line's CEO recently pointed out they are still waiting for instructions from the CDC on how to proceed.

By keeping cruise lines shutdown, CLIA says it has cost jobs and revenue to the U.S. economy.

CLIA estimates restarting cruises as part of the broader travel industry will provide a much-needed boost to the U.S. economy—with the cruise industry supporting nearly 450,000 American jobs and contributing over $55.5 billion annually, prior to the pandemic.  

Based on economic modeling by research firm BREA, more than 300,000 jobs have been lost in the United States due to the suspension of cruises. 

While the U.S. remains on the sidelines of cruising, Royal Caribbean and other lines have begun plans to sail from other countries in order to bypass the CDC.

Royal Caribbean will offer Adventure of the Seas and Vision of the Seas this summer from the Bahamas and Bermuda, respectively. Celebrity Cruises will sail from St. Maarten on the Celebrity Millennium.

The rationale for the No Sail Order and the CSO has been a fear that cruise ships are inherently unsafe because Covid-19 can more easily spread there.

In the CDC's Executive Summary of the No Sail Order, they cite data on COVID-19 cases aboard cruise ships from early 2020 as impetus for the rule.

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