Saturday, October 31, 2020

CDC lifts cruise ban, says companies can restart once they prove COVID-19 protocols work

Cruise ships are docked and lined up at Port of Miami in Miami, Florida on Monday, May 4, 2020. Daniel A. Varela

Taylor Dolven, Jacqueline Charles
Miami Herald

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention set the stage for the return of U.S. cruising with the Friday release of detailed requirements that could put ships back in operation in the coming months.

The decision from the CDC to let its no-sail order expire on Oct. 31 in exchange for a conditional sail order is a win for the Florida-based cruise industry, which has been paralyzed since the industry stopped passenger operations March 13 amid COVID-19 outbreaks at sea. Still, cruise companies will have to prove to the agency that COVID protocols are working with specific testing requirements and trial runs before passengers can return, and will have to enter into written agreements with land-side medical facilities to treat any affected cruisers.

Most cruise companies — Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Group, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, MSC Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line and Virgin Voyages — have canceled all cruises leaving from U.S. ports until at least Dec. 1.

The industry’s lobbying group, Cruise Lines International Association has urged the federal government to lift the cruise ban. Individual lines have hired experts to create protocols that they say will limit the evacuations, ship strandings and, according to a Miami Herald investigation, at least 111 COVID deaths the industry experienced in the spring and summer. Those guidelines have been adopted by CLIA.  Read more >>