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CDC Says Cruise Ships Now Able to Set Sail, But Only With Crew

CDC Says Cruise Ships Now Able to Set Sail, But Only With Crew

The CDC’s no sail order for cruise lines has hurt the industry incredibly hard compared to some other markets, but on Sunday, the order ended.

The CDC’s no sail order for cruise lines has hurt the industry incredibly hard compared to some other markets, but on Sunday, the order ended.

Credit | Royal Caribbean Group

The Centers for Disease Control, or the CDC, has given cruises the green light to go ahead and set sail throughout the US, following months of no-sail orders from the organization.

While this is a huge step forward for heavily injured cruise lines, it could still be months before tourists are allowed to sail across the ocean, due to this no-sail order removal only applying to the ships and crew exclusively. Tourists and visitors still aren’t allowed to sail, at least just not yet.

As a quick flashback, cruise ships have been notoriously known as “giant test tubes” for years, due to their enclosed nature and surprising ability to spread gastrointestinal illnesses across thousands of passengers. That ended up playing into spreading COVID throughout the country.

Anyway, zoom back a few days from today, on Friday; the CDC released an updated conditional sailing order, lifting the no-sail ban, and replacing it with a new list of health protocols and a “framework of actionable items.”

Both of these are made as a guideline for cruises to follow starting November 1st, which if followed, could lead to tourists setting sail on the ships.

This order directly applies to cruise ships with 250 passengers or more which travel in US waters, and describes how cruise lines should “take a phased approach for the safe and responsible resumption of passenger cruises.”

According to that part specifically, it’s made clear that while cruises may be resumed, passengers and tourists aren’t allowed to sail yet.

carnival-cruise-ship-at-sea

According to the CDC Director, Dr. Robert Redfield, “This framework provides a pathway to resume safe and responsible sailing. It will mitigate the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks on ships and prevent passengers and crew from seeding outbreaks at ports and in the communities where they live; CDC and the cruise industry have a shared goal to protect crew, passengers, and communities and will continue to work together to ensure that all necessary public health procedures are in place before cruise ships begin sailing with passengers.”

In essence, at least according to this report by the CDC Director, cruise lines and the CDC are working closely to not only get cruises up and running as soon as possible, but to also provide safety. Preventing outbreaks in ships and off of ships appears to be a goal for this partnership.

The CDC’s tiered plan

Phase One: During the beginning phase of this CDC plan, cruise companies must use additional testing and social distancing before they can move on to operate example voyages.

Phase Two: During the CDC’s second phase, ships and lines will set sail on example/simulated voyages with volunteers acting as passengers. This would be to “test cruise ship operators’ ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk,” according to the release

Phase Three: After cruise lines, or ships individually, are able to meet requirements and guidelines, then following a CDC certification, voyages would then be on track for returning. This would be under increased social distancing guidelines, increased testing, and changed protocols. 

Why no-sail has gone on for this long

The CDC’s original no-sail order was issued on March 14th, and was developed to stay for 30 days. That would be when the order was to end. Multiple ships across the world had coronavirus outbreaks, which pushed this into the spotlight, but didn’t make it a super important issue.

Then came the Grand Princess, a Carnival ship, which was quarantined off of the San Francisco coast for weeks. Twenty-one people tested positive in March, and after quarantining on the ship then running out of supplies, passengers came on land and quarantined again.

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Days later, another line, the Holland America, reported four diseased from the virus and 233 ill, across two of their ships. After being rejected from ports in South America, the ships were pushed to Fort Lauderdale, eventually leading to early spreading of the virus.

Why no-sail has gone on for this long

The CDC’s original no-sail order was issued on March 14th, and was developed to stay for 30 days. That would be when the order was to end. Multiple ships across the world had coronavirus outbreaks, which pushed this into the spotlight, but didn’t make it a super important issue.

Then came the Grand Princess, a Carnival ship, which was quarantined off of the San Francisco coast for weeks. Twenty-one people tested positive in March, and after quarantining on the ship then running out of supplies, passengers came on land and quarantined again.

Days later, another line, the Holland America, reported four diseased from the virus and 233 ill, across two of their ships. After being rejected from ports in South America, the ships were pushed to Fort Lauderdale, eventually leading to early spreading of the virus.

Following these unfortunate events, cruise lines and ships were held quarantined for months, with up to thirty-three thousand cruise line employees stranded at one point. Passengers were rushed to quarantine, which eventually led to even more spreading across the US.

Overall, cruise lines have been shut down for months, following the CDC’s no sail order, destroying that market. Coronavirus has played into the volatility of viruses aboard ships, which had necessitated lines’ shutdowns.

While lines are now opened technically, it’s only for employees, and after a three tiered reopening plan, passengers would then be able to return.

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