It has been almost five months since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its framework for cruise lines returning to sailing. Since then, the cruise industry has been in a holding pattern in the U.S., with sailings in the largest cruise market in the world still banned, with no clear guidance on the horizon.
While some lines, like Royal Caribbean and Crystal Cruise, have committed to restarting out of non-U.S. ports, now is the time for the CDC to lift its Conditional Sail Order that is preventing the industry from restarting in the U.S.
That is according to a statement released on Wednesday by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and its president and CEO Kelly Craighead.
Craighead and CLIA want the CDC to allow for cruise operations from U.S. ports to resume in early-July, a timeframe that is in line with President Biden’s forecast for when the country will be “closer to normal,” the group said.
Cruising’s success in restarting outside of the U.S.—nearly 400,000 passengers have already sailed to date in more than 10 major cruise markets including Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific—proves that the industry will be able to do the same stateside. In fact, less than 50 cases have been reported during those restarts, a significantly lower rate than on land vacations or in any other mode of transportation.
“Over the past eight months, a highly-controlled resumption of cruising has continued in Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific—with nearly 400,000 passengers sailing to date in more than 10 major cruise markets. These voyages were successfully completed with industry-leading protocols that have effectively mitigated the spread of COVID-19. Additional sailings are planned in the Mediterranean and Caribbean later this spring and summer,” Craighead said.
“The outdated CSO, which was issued almost five months ago, does not reflect the industry’s proven advancements and success operating in other parts of the world, nor the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,” Craighead added.
When it comes to vaccination requirements, CLIA said it “does not currently have a policy related to vaccines. The organization and its members are exploring a workable approach for how to consider vaccinations, once widely available, as part of robust protocols.”