The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Thursday extended its "no sail" order on all ocean cruise ships sailing in the United States until at least Sept. 30, just as the CDC's previous order was set to expire on July 24.
In its order, which can be read in full here, the CDC cited the rise in COVID-19 cases around the world and further action required "prior to cruise ships resuming passenger operations" as reasons for the order's extension. Most U.S. cruise lines had not expected to sail until later this year and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) in June announced that all of its member cruise lines would extend their voluntary sailing suspension through at least Sept. 15 because of COVID-19 concerns.
"On July 12, 2020, 230,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported, the largest single-day tally worldwide since the epidemic began. It took three months to reach the first million cases of COVID-19, but during one week in June 2020, 1 million new cases were reported worldwide," the order reads.
The CDC also cited some violations of its previous no sail orders, many of which were crew-management violations, and some "insufficient details" in NSO response plans, submitted by cruise ship operators to the CDC, as reasons for the extension. According to the document, only one operator had been able to meet all of the CDC's response plan requirements as of July 10, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line.
Other lines have made plans to alter health and safety protocols to meet and go beyond CDC requirements, including Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, who jointly announced earlier this month that they had formed a partnership on a new “Healthy Sail Panel” that includes Dr. Scott Gottlieb and former Utah Governor and Sec. of Health and Human Service Mike Leavitt. Data from that panel, which will be observed by the CDC, will shape the way both return to sailing.
CLIA, in a statement, reacted to the news and applauded the CDC's request for more information about how the industry was going to safely return to operations.
"As reflected in today’s announcement, CLIA and its member lines remain aligned with the CDC in our commitment to public health and safety. We are also pleased that the CDC has announced its intention to issue a request for information about the industry's resumption of passenger operations.
"As we continue to work towards the development of enhanced protocols to support the safe resumption of cruise operations around the world, we look forward to timely and productive dialogue with the CDC to determine measures that will be appropriate for ocean-going cruise operations to resume in the United States when the time is right."