PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – The Centers for Disease Control issued new guidance for the cruise ship industry on Friday. It’s the first update since October, but it doesn’t look like commercial sailings will resume immediately.
The new instructions mention COVID-19 vaccinations, saying that the vaccines are a necessary step before passenger voyages can resume.
“COVID-19 vaccination efforts will be critical in the safe resumption of passenger operations,” the CDC said in a release. “As more people are fully vaccinated, the phased approach allows CDC to incorporate these advancements into planning for resumption of cruise ship travel when it is safe to do so.”
The CDC said that simulated (trial) voyages should being that will allow crew and port personnel to practice new COVID-19 operational procedures with volunteers before sailing with passengers.
The guidance also states frequency for reporting COVID-19 cases and illnesses of crew members must be increased from weekly to daily.
However, the CDC did not special a date when cruise operations can resume from U.S. ports, instead they said they will be issuing additional guidance before allowing cruises to resume.
“Cruising safely and responsibly during a global pandemic is difficult. While cruising will always pose some risk of COVID-19 transmission, following the phases of the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) will ensure cruise ship passenger operations are conducted in a way that protects crew members, passengers, and port personnel, particularly with emerging COVID-19 variants of concern,” the release stated.
The CDC first issued a no-sail order in March 2020, which has taken its toll on one of South Florida’s economic engines, the cruise industry.
Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis has called on the CDC to rescind its no sail order.
“If there is one thing we’ve learned over the past year, it’s that lockdowns don’t work and Floridians deserve the right to earn a living,” DeSantis said during a roundtable at Port Canaveral, Fla. “The cruise industry is essential to our state’s economy and keeping it shut down until November would be devastating to the men and women who rely on the cruise lines to provide for themselves and their families. I urge the CDC to immediately rescind this baseless no-sail order to allow Floridians in this industry to get back to work.”
The CDC’s no-sail order is currently in effect until Nov. 1.