According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) U.S. cruises could resume as early as July of this year.
Aimee Treffiletti, head of the Maritime Unit for CDC’s COVID-19 response within its Global Mitigation Task Force for COVID-19 said “We acknowledge that cruising will never be a zero-risk activity and that the goal of the CSO’s phased approach is to resume passenger operations in a way that mitigates the risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard cruise ships and across port communities.”
Depending on the cruise lines’ compliance with the CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing Order and their pace for resuming sailing, cruises could resume as early as mid-July 2021. The CDC has clarified some of the aspects of the Conditional Sailing Order, giving cruise lines hope to resume sailing soon.
“Last night, the CDC notified us of some clarifications and amplifications of their Conditional Sail Order, which addressed uncertainties and concerns we had raised,” Royal Caribbean chairman and CEO Richard Fain said. “They have dealt with many of these items in a constructive manner that takes into account recent advances in vaccines and medical science. Although this is only part of a very complex process, it encourages us that we now see a pathway to a healthy and achievable return to service, hopefully in time for an Alaskan season.”
The CDC clarifications include:
- Ships can bypass the required simulated test voyages carrying volunteers and jump to sailings with paying passengers if 98% of crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated.
- CDC will review and respond to applications from cruise lines for simulated voyages within five days, a review previously expected to take 60 days.
- CDC will update its testing and quarantine requirements for passengers and crew on sailings with paying passengers to align with the CDC’s guidance for fully vaccinated people. So, for example, instead of taking a PCR lab test ahead of boarding, vaccinated passengers can take a rapid antigen test upon embarkation.
- CDC has clarified that cruise ship operators may enter into a “multi-port agreement” rather than a single port agreement as long as all port and local authorities sign the agreement.
- The CDC has clarified guidance on quarantine guidelines for passengers who may be exposed to or contract COVID-19. For example, local passengers may be able to drive home and passengers who have traveled by air to cruise may quarantine in a hotel.
Disney Cruise Line also has July sailings available to book online. There is still hope that cruise fans will be able to get back to sailing this summer!