US Cruising won’t resume in U.S. waters until 2021, with lines renewing a voluntary suspension
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Cruise ships will not return to U.S. waters with passengers onboard until 2021,(CLIA), announced Tuesday. The group has extended through Dec. 31 a voluntary suspension of U.S. operations that expired Saturday. CLIA includes Carnival Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean, and makes up 95 percent of the global cruising industry.
CLIA said in a news release that the continued suspension of operations “will provide additional time to align the industry’s extensive preparation of health protocols with the implementation requirements under the CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing and Initial Phase COVID-19 Testing Requirements for Protection of Crew.”
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The world’s biggest cruise lines have roughly doubled the number of lobbyists they’re dispatching to congressional offices and several federal agencies this year. But as they try to resume sailing from U.S. ports, one of their most effective targets has been the White House. A former adviser to the White House Coronavirus Task Force says she and other advisers fielded a stream of calls and emails from cruise line officials, including Carnival Corp.’s in-house lobbyist. Their message: Help lift a “no-sail” order from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that has banned passenger cruises from U.S. ports since March.
The suspension of U.S. operations comes two days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention replaced its no-sail order with a “conditional sailing” order requiring cruises to make a slew of changes before they can again allow passengers onboard. Cruises have not sailed in U.S. waters since March, when theCruises can begin phased return starting Nov. 1 under new protocols, CDC says pandemic began.
The order laid out the framework for a four-phase return to cruising that includes new health protocols, such as implementing mandatory testing and capacity restrictions.
Martin Cetron, the CDC director for the division of global migration and quarantine, told The Washington Post on Friday that there was no timeline for passengers to return to U.S. waters; they would only be permitted after cruise lines completed the four required steps, including "a series of mock voyages with volunteers who will play the role of passengers.” The new framework draws upon, a team of CLIA cruise and public health experts that Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line assembled this July.
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With its new extension on suspended U.S. operations, it seems cruise lines do not foresee the ability to complete those steps for a return of passengers before the end of the year.
“CLIA members are committed to implementing stringent measures to address COVID-19 safety, including 100% testing of passengers and crew, expanded onboard medical capabilities, and trial sailings, among many others,” CLIA said in the announcement. “We share a common goal with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect public health, which has been affirmed and reaffirmed consistently throughout the industry’s response to the global pandemic.”
The United States set alast week, with 100,000 cases recorded on Friday.
Despite letting its no-sail order expire, the CDC still recommends in itsthat “travelers defer all cruise travel worldwide.” Cetron told The Post on Friday that the CDC currently has no plans to change that highest-level cruise warning.
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