Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) on Monday reiterated its call for the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) to be lifted.
The trade association, which represents ocean and river cruise lines along with travel agencies specializing in cruise travel, said the additional cruise industry instructions issued April 2 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) under the CSO are “disappointing” and urged the Biden Administration end the CSO this month to allow for the planning of a “controlled return” to cruising this summer.
Last week, the CDC added new language to its technical instructions, which it said was part of step two of a four-step program, although it did not give cruise lines a restart date for operations out of U.S. ports. Some of the new guidelines included requiring cruise lines to report COVID-19 cases and illnesses daily instead of weekly to the CDC; implement a new color-coding system to classify a ship’s COVID status, and decrease the time it takes for a ship to go from “red” to green” in that system from 28 to 114 days.
“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,” CLIA said in a statement.
According to CLIA, the new mandates will financially hurt half a million Americans—from those working in hotels, restaurants, and retail stores, to travel agents, and more—"with no reasonable timeline provided for the safe return of cruising.”
“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,” the statement continued.
CLIA pointed to the fact that nearly 400,000 passengers have sailed from Europe and parts of Asia since last summer, following stringent, science-based protocols.
”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. This deprives U.S. workers from participating in the economic recovery and does not recognize the public health advances that have been made over many months, including the ability to effectively mitigate risk on cruise ships.
“With no discernable path forward or timeframe for resumption in the U.S., more sailings originating in the Caribbean and elsewhere are likely to be announced, effectively shutting American ports, closing thousands of American small businesses, and pushing an entire industry offshore.”
The statement comes as Norwegian Cruise Line Holding announced it has resubmitted its restart plan to the CDC, with a goal of resuming cruises by July 4, 2021.