Three U.S. Senators—Marco Rubio (R-FL), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Rick Scott (R-FL)—this week introduced a new bill that would revoke the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) current Conditional Sail Order on cruises and allow cruise lines to start sailing out of U.S. ports.
The Careful Resumption Under Improved Safety Enhancements (CRUISE) Act would require the CDC to provide COVID-19 mitigation guidance for cruise lines to resume safe domestic operations by July 4.
It is the third bill introduced over the last year aimed at helping the cruise industry regain normal operations. Two other bills, including one aimed at allowing ships to sail to Alaska without having to stop in Canada, failed.
All three Senators, along with Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), who is leading companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, come from states that have cruise ports hubs and are most negatively affected by the cruise ship ban.
“Unlike the airlines, rail, and other modes of transportation—and all other sectors of the hospitality industry for that matter—the cruise lines have been denied clear direction from the CDC on how to resume operations,” Sullivan said.
“As a result, potential cruises this summer, when the President said the country will be able to return to normal with more and more Americans getting vaccinated, have been left adrift…My legislation with Senators Scott and Rubio will accomplish what letters, meetings, and repeated phone calls have not—directing the CDC to finally codify timely guidance and a plan for cruise ships to safely and responsibly welcome passengers again this summer,” he added.
The bill would create an interagency group that would issue recommendations for how cruise lines can mitigate COVID-19 risks onboard and onshore and would require the CDC to issue recommendations that would allow ships to restart by July 4.
While the CDC has kept to its November restart date for cruising, there have been indications that it could shift course. Last week, a CDC spokesperson told TMR that cruise lines might be able to restart “by mid-summer.”
“CDC is committed to working with the cruise industry and seaport partners to resume cruising following the phased approach outlined in the conditional sailing order.
“The goal aligns with the desire to resume passenger operations in the United States expressed by many major cruise ship operators and travelers; hopefully, by mid-summer with restricted revenue sailings.”