The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. has lifted the No Sail Order for cruise ships, essentially allowing sailings from November 1, 2020, and ending a more than a seven-month ban on large cruise ship operations in U.S. waters.
However, despite the landmark announcement, it’s unlikely that any of the cruise lines will sail again in November and probably December given the CDC’s lengthy series of requirements cruise lines must undertake first to ensure they can prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Just days out from the U.S. election, the CDC yesterday published and issued a “Framework for Conditional Sailing Order” that details a phased approach to the resumption of service in order to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spread to passengers, crew and U.S. communities.
With the continued spread of the pandemic worldwide and what the CDC spelt out as an increased risk “of COVID-19” on cruise ships, the CDC said, “a careful approach is needed to safely resume cruise ship passenger operations.”
“During the initial phases, cruise ship operators must demonstrate adherence to testing, quarantine and isolation, and social distancing requirements to protect crew members while they build the laboratory capacity needed to test crew and future passengers,” the agency explained.
Additional phases will include mock voyages to test the cruise lines’ ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk, certification for ships that meet specific requirements, and a phased return to passenger cruises.
CDC spokesperson Cate Shockey told USA Today that the mock voyages will include volunteers such as cruise line employees or their family members, saying they will be akin to the shakedown cruises that lines do with any new vessel prior to its official maiden voyage.
The No Sail Order first went into effect on March 14 and was extended on April 15, July 16 and Sept. 30, when it was extended until Oct. 31.
However, after announcing the expiration date of the “No Sail” order on Oct. 31, the CDC issued a “Level 3 Travel Health Notice” recommending that people still “defer travel” on cruise ships worldwide.
Most cruise lines in the U.S had also already cancelled sailings in November and December anyway, leaving only a few of their remaining 2020 sailings on the schedule.
Read the full CDC “Framework for Conditional Sailing Order” here.
Meanwhile… A word from ‘Carnival’s Chief Fun Officer’, NBA Basketball star Shaquille O’Neal.
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