CDC hits cruise lines with strict new rules, as No Sail Order ends

Key West, Florida - November 22, 2011:  Tourist from a cruise ship waiting in line to take a tour of one of the Key West, Florida islands.  Cruise ship and lifeboats can be seen in background.

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has released a strict framework for the resumption of cruising in the US.

The CDC’s No Sail Order was lifted on 31 October, but cruise companies have been slapped with a set of strict new rules before they can resume passenger excursions.

The framework calls for a phased approach to the resumption of operations alongside a stringent set of health and safety requirements including a series of “mock” voyages.

“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,” CDC director Robert R. Redfield said.

In a statement, the CDC said a phased approach is necessary because of the continued spread of COVID-19 worldwide, risk of resurgence in countries that have suppressed transmission, ongoing concerns related to restarting of cruising internationally, and need for additional time for the cruise industry to test the effectiveness of measures to control potential COVID-19 transmission on board cruise ships with passengers without impacting public health.

Under the framework, cruise lines will need to show their 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 next phases will include simulated (mock) voyages with volunteers playing the role of passengers to test cruise ship operators’ ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk, certification for ships that meet specific requirements, and return to passenger voyages in a manner that mitigates COVID-19 risk among passengers, crew members, and communities.

“Our member lines are 100 percent committed to helping to protect the health of our guests, our crew and the communities we serve, and are prepared to implement multiple layers of protocols informed by the latest scientific and medical knowledge,” said Kelly Craighead, president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

“We look forward to reviewing the new Order and are optimistic that it is an important step toward returning our ships to service from U.S. ports.”

The CDC said it will help ships prepare and protect crewmembers during initial phases by:

  • Establishing a laboratory team dedicated to cruise ships to provide information and oversight for COVID-19 testing,
  • Updating its color-coding system to indicate ship status,
  • Updating its technical instructions, as needed, and
  • Updating the “Enhanced Data Collection (EDC) During COVID-19 Pandemic Form” to prepare for surveillance for COVID-19 among passengers.

This comes as Carnival Corporation was ordered to prove it is adhering to additional environmental requirements before it can return its ships to the sea in the US.

Carnival has paused all Australian sailings until at least 8 February 2021.


Featured image source: iStock/fstop123

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