The cruise industry is ready to sail. And it calls on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to do what it sees as unfair treatment more than a year after shutdown by the health authority in US waters due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Cruise Lines International Association, the industry’s leading trade organization, urges the CDC to raise theirs “Framework for conditional sailing regulations” so that the cruise can gradually resume until the beginning of July.
“The outdated CSO, issued nearly five months ago, does not reflect the proven advancements and achievements of the industry in other parts of the world, nor the emergence of vaccines, and it treats cruises unfairly differently,” said Kelly Craighead, President and CEO of CLIA. which makes up 95% of the capacity for ocean cruises, it said in a statement.
CLIA noted in a press release that the CDC has not issued additional guidance since the CDC regulation was adopted in October, as it had announced.
USA TODAY has requested a comment from the CDC.
“The lack of any action by the CDC has effectively banned all travel in the world’s largest cruise market,” CLIA said. According to the CLIA, cruising is the “only sector” of the American economy that remains closed.
“Cruise lines should be treated the same as any other travel, tourism, hospitality and entertainment area,” Craighead said.
CLIA said the industry’s desire to resume the cruise in July is in line with President Joe Biden’s Prediction for Normality in the United States.
Why has Cruising turned off COVID for so long?
Cruising was in the spotlight at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when Princess Cruises’ Diamond princess was quarantined in early 2020. The ship suffered an outbreak that infected more than 700 on board and killed more than a dozen people. It was the first ship of many, including its sister ship Grand princessto experience COVID-19 related outbreaks.
The close contact of the cruise ships Environments increase the risk of infectious disease spreading, and that risk of spread doesn’t stop when passengers disembark in ports or at the end of a trip, said Dr. Martin Cetron, director of global migration and quarantine for CDC USA TODAY last year.
“Now the virus is amplified … and dispersed,” Cetron said in July. “It’s pretty clear that this is a formula for accelerated adoption, transfer, and then accelerated diffusion.”
Cruises abroad work and, according to industry, are COVID-safe
Craighead cited cruises resuming in Europe, the South Pacific and Asia as evidence that a “highly controlled cruise resumption” can be conducted successfully. Craighead said nearly 400,000 passengers have sailed on ships that “have effectively mitigated the spread of COVID-19”.
Since resuming cruising overseas this summer, CLIA has been tracking publicly reported cases of COVID-19 cases its member cruise lines. There were 39 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 13 false positives during these crossings, which carried nearly 400,000 people, Bari Golin-Blaugrund, CLIA’s vice president of strategic communications, told USA TODAY.
Additional crossings are planned by cruise lines aiming to serve American customers outside of US waters including the Caribbean and Mediterranean for this spring and summer.
“The cruise industry around the world has set a high bar for resumption with a multilayered set of policies that are to be revised as conditions change,” said Craighead, referring to the requirements implemented by CLIA in SeptemberThese include masks, social distancing, and COVID testing, among others.
Vaccines are not absolutely necessary if sailing is allowed to resume
While Craighead said “the accelerated adoption of vaccines is a game changer,” CLIA has not initiated a comprehensive COVID vaccine requirement.
However, some cruise lines have already taken steps of their own to require vaccines for passengers and crew.
Maiden voyagesFor example, Richard Branson’s adult-only cruise line requires all passengers and crew to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before boarding, the company said last week.
And the Royal Caribbean Group has announced a vaccine requirement for some of their ships. including his newest ship due to sail in Israel this May, and on ships Depart from the Bahamas, Bermuda and St. Maarten.
Royal Caribbean Group, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. and Costa Cruises, a subsidiary of Carnival Corp. have all said they intend to ask Vaccines for crew members.