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Royal Caribbean has submitted its first plan to the CDC to get approval for test cruises

In:
Category: 
22May2021

The first test cruises could be coming sooner rather than later.

After securing port agreements, Royal Caribbean has confirmed it has submitted the first plan for a test cruise to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley confirmed that the first such plan has been sent to the CDC for approval, so that the cruise line can begin simulated voyages.

Posting on Facebook, Mr. Bayley jumped on a wave of optimism sweeping through the cruise industry as of late, by announcing Royal Caribbean taking its next major step.

"Yesterday Royal Caribbean submitted the first of several port/health plans to the CDC which are required to receive approval for the simulated voyages which are required to precede approval for regular cruises."

Mr. Bayley did not specify which port or ship was part of the application.

The cruise line announced new sailings to Alaska in summer 2021 on the same day this application to the CDC was announced.

The simulated voyages are the test sailings mandated by the CDC in order to receive permission for a cruise ship to sail from the United States.

Under the CDC's Framework for Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO), cruise lines must first get an agreement with each port for the health and safety of crew, passengers and port personnel.

So far, Royal Caribbean has secured port agreements with at least two ports: Port Canaveral and Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale). Others port agreements may be in place as well, but it has not been publicly divulged.

With the application sent, the CDC says it will respond to submissions within 5 business days. According to the CDC, it expects to quickly approve applications that are both complete and accurate.

CDC may deny the request to conduct a simulated voyage if the cruise ship operator is not in compliance with any of CDC’s requirements for the mitigation of COVID-19 onboard cruise ships, technical instructions, or orders, or if in CDC’s determination the simulated voyage does not provide adequate safeguards to minimize the risk of COVID-19 for all participants. CDC may also oversee and inspect any aspect of the simulated voyage, including through in-person or remote means allowing for visual observation.

In the meantime, Mr. Bayley has promised more news is coming soon, "In the coming days and weeks we will announce more exciting news for all our crew and all our loyal guests."

What is a test cruise?

This announcement by Mr. Bayley is the closest step in Royal Caribbean restarting cruises from the United States.

Test cruises are when cruise lines can operate ships with volunteer passengers in order to prove their new protocols work.

Read moreHere's how to sign up to be a volunteer for a Royal Caribbean test cruise

Simulated sailings will need to meet CDC expectations for certification, which includes a variety of protocols, drills, and simulations all aimed at ensuring the ships can be operated safely and respond to any health need onboard.

These volunteers will help test out Royal Caribbean's new health protocols and ensure the new rules are working as intended.

So far, at least 200,000 people have signed up to be a volunteer on a test cruise.

Royal Caribbean has also been hard at work getting crew members vaccinated by bringing its ships into American ports to get inoculated.

Florida tells Royal Caribbean it does not need its permission for cruise ships to sail

In:
21May2021

The Florida Health Department informed Royal Caribbean this week it can directly appeal to the CDC to begin cruises.

One of the mandates included in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plan for cruise ships to be able to restart sailings from the United States is for each line to  secure agreements with port and health authorities in the U.S. cities they plan to visit.

Royal Caribbean Group announced it had signed a port agreement with Port Canaveral to operate cruise ships, and Port Everglades informed RoyalCaribbeanBlog it had also signed a similar port agreement with Royal Caribbean Group on May 10.

The agreement explains what the cruise terminal would do in the case of Covid-19 cases on a cruise ship, as well as how it intends to keep the cruise terminal and gangways sanitized.

The CDC's instructions for cruise lines under the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) are to submit the port agreements to the state Department of Health, but Florida has responded by saying they do not need to give cruise lines permission to operate, and directed cruise lines to go right to the CDC for test cruise permission.

The letter was sent on Thursday by State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, MD, to Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises CEOs Michael Bayley and Lisa Lutoff-Perlo.

In the letter, Dr. Rivkees said Florida has "limited statutory authority with respect to cruise lines, and the Department's permission is not required for your company to resume operations."

Dr. Rivkees went on to be even more specific about the lack of need for cruise lines to seek permission, "To be clear, nothing in state law stands in the way of cruise ship operations."

"The Department is in full support of your company resuming operations and we look forward to continuing this collaborative relationship when your company begins sailing again."

As a result of the letter, Port Everglades re-executed its MOA between the port and Royal Caribbean International/Celebrity Cruises, and believes the cruise lines can now send its application into the CDC for test cruise permission.

Once the CDC accepts the agreement, Royal Caribbean Group can make an application to the CDC to begin test cruises.

More ships coming to get crew vaccinated

Meanwhile, more Royal Caribbean ships are coming to get its crew members vaccinated in preparation for cruises to sail.

The quick pace of approval with Florida's ports means ships are coming to various ports for brief stops to get crew members inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine.

Explorer of the Seas stopped in Port Canaveral on Wednesday to administer 210 vaccines, and Adventure of the Seas arrived on Friday morning to administer 1,050 vaccine doses. Explorer will return on Saturday for another 210 vaccines to be administered.

What about Port Liberty?

With all of the news recently of Florida cruise ports working with Royal Caribbean to sign port agreements, many cruise fans have been asking about the state of affairs as it relates to Port Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey.

A spokesperson for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey issued a statement after RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com reached out for an update.

"We are working closely with Cape Liberty Cruise Port in anticipation of the ‘trial cruise’ required by the CDC’s Conditional Sail Order to take place by mid-August, with a regular schedule of cruises expected to resume by the end of August."

"At this time, there is no timeline for cruise resumption at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal."

Judge orders mediation in Florida's lawsuit against the CDC to get cruise ships sailing

In:
Category: 
18May2021

Judge Steven D. Merryday has ordered mediation for the State of Florida's lawsuit against the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

After hearing deliberations on May 12, Judge Merryday said Florida and the CDC must work out an agreement prior to June 1, 2021.

Rather than grant Florida their injunction against the CDC's Conditional Sail Order (CSO), the Judge wants the groups to come together to find an agreement.

Mediation is a common process in the courts where a neutral third person called a mediator helps the parties discuss and try to resolve the dispute.

While courts can mandate that certain cases go to mediation, the process remains "voluntary" in that the parties are not required to come to agreement. The mediator does not have the power to make a decision for the parties, but can help the parties find a resolution that is mutually acceptable. 

The only people who can resolve the dispute in mediation are the parties themselves. 

Mediation can proceed in a variety of manners once it begins, but it usually starts with a joint session where the process is laid out, and the role of the mediator is established.

Some mediators conduct the entire process in a joint session. However, other mediators will move to separate sessions, shuttling back and forth between the parties. If the parties reach an agreement, the mediator may help reduce the agreement to a written contract, which may be enforceable in court.

Florida Governor Ron Desantis filed the lawsuit against the federal government, United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and CDC, demanding cruise ships be reopened immediately.

Essentially, Florida believes the CSO is unlawful.

DeSantis criticized how long cruises have been shutdown without any end in sight, "I don't think you can just indefinitely shutter major, major businesses and cost all these jobs. So we want a way forward."

"We have people flying on airplanes, they're on buses, hotels, restaurants, theme parks, casinos, bars, you name it. But somehow the cruise is viewed as differently."

DeSantis pointed out to how effective the Covid-19 vaccine is, and believes that alone is proof enough to get cruises going again.

Governor DeSantis believes the CDC has no right to shutdown the cruise industry for this long, given the "very little evidence and very little data" provided by the agency.

CDC will only require cruise ship passenger Covid-19 tests after the cruise on sailings more than 4 nights

In:
Category: 
18May2021

There has been another tweak made to the rules for cruise ships that want to restart sailings from the United States.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a small update on Tuesday to its Operations Manual that address the tests given to cruise passengers at the end of their sailing.

Last week, the CDC added new rules for the type of tests that are required for fully and unvaccinated passengers.

Fully vaccinated passengers do not need to be tested at all, but not fully vaccinated passengers would need to undergo a NAAT or antigen test on the first and last day of the cruise, as well as when transitioning on back to back sailings.

Today's update changes that slightly, by only requiring disembarkation testing for not fully vaccinated passengers on cruises that are more than 4 nights in duration.

"All disembarking passengers if the voyage is more than 4 nights. Specimens may be collected up to 24-hours prior to disembarkation but results must be available prior to disembarking."

This is the third update to the operations manual by the CDC in less than a week.

The agency updated a handful of the rules on May 12, and then added the testing rules on May 15.  

These changes apply to the rules a cruise line must adhere to in order to offer test or restricted revenue cruises from U.S. waters.  Cruise lines must get each ship approved by the CDC in order to operate while the Conditional Sail Order (CSO) is in effect.

While these updates are a clear sign the CDC is working with cruise lines to address concerns, there are still a number of policies and procedures the CDC requires that lack common sense when taking into account the high levels of vaccinated passengers, as well as what is happening in society on land today.

Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy told NBC News yesterday Carnival is working with the CDC, but cruise lines are still being held to a different standard than any other form of leisure travel.

Ms. Duffy pointed out other industries did not have to apply for permission to operate, or have a vaccine mandate in order to operate, "There's no mandate for any other business to have that requirement."

RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers were also perplexed at the changes. Loops wondered why the duration of a sailing factors into unvaccinated passengers getting tested or not, "Why would the length in time of the cruise matter?"

Royal Caribbean expects new CDC update on cruise ship protocols this week

In:
17May2021

Royal Caribbean's first cruise ship to sail from North America is less than a month away from beginning, but the line has not released its travel requirements and health protocols yet.

In an email to those booked on Adventure of the Seas from Nassau, Bahamas, Royal Caribbean said it is holding back the requirements and changes passengers can expect onboard because the the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) is going to provide new guidance "later this week."

The email from Royal Caribbean International Assistant Vice President of Guest Experience, Aurora Yera-Rodriguez, says the cruise line is expecting new guidelines, and that is why passengers have not been informed of the new protocols.

"We were almost ready to hit send on our travel requirements and health protocols for your sailing onboard Adventure of the Seas departing from The Bahamas and then we learned that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control plans to share updated guidance with us later this week."

Adventure of the Seas will begin cruises on June 12 from outside the United States, which allows the ship to operate without approval by the CDC.

Adventure will become the second Royal Caribbean International cruise ship to restart operations, following Quantum of the Seas from Singapore.

Other ships are also scheduled to sail this summer from outside the U.S., including Vision of the Seas from Bermuda, Jewel of the Seas from Cyprus, and Anthem of the Seas from England.

Read moreSummer 2021 Cruise Planning Guide

Initially, Royal Caribbean had promised to give guests booked on the sailing an update around 30 days before sailing, but that date came and went last week.

"While we know you've been patiently waiting for protocols, our teams have been diligently preparing and working with our medical teams, government health authorities, and testing providers to ensure we provide you with the best experience before, during, and after your cruise, and we are optimistic about this upcoming update. Please bear with us for a little more time - as we want to make sure that when we do update you, it's as close to final as possible."

It seems Royal Caribbean may have been ready to announce those protocols last week, but held back due to new guidance from the CDC.

On a webinar with travel agents, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed, said the line intended to announce them on May 12, but plans changed, "We had truly hoped that we would be able to announce our protocols and our return to service today."

The CDC has been busy with updates for cruise lines lately, issuing a number of revisions to what it requires and suggests for cruise lines in order to restart operations.

Just last week, the CDC issued two different updates to its operations manual for cruise lines, which outline what a cruise ship must do in order to receive permission to sail from the United States.

Sailings that do not visit a U.S. port, such as Adventure of the Seas, are not reliant on CDC guidelines or approval, but it appears Royal Caribbean wants to hear what the CDC has to say before announcing their own protocols.

Carnival is in active discussions with CDC to restart cruises in July

In:
17May2021

Carnival Cruise Line confirmed on Monday it is in active discussions to restart cruises from the United States as early as July.

All eyes are on which cruise lines will be able to restart cruises from the United States, which requires permission from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy said in an interview with NBC Nightly News the cruise line is working with the CDC to gain permission to restart sailings in July, which will carry no vaccine mandate for passengers in order to sail.

Ms. Duffy said Carnival and the CDC are "working through the details" of sailing again in July.

Carnival wants to jump on the initiative by President Joe Biden to reopen the country by Independence Day on July 4, "I think the CDC and the interagency groups that are working with us now have that same goal in mind as President Biden said."

"He wants to reopen America by the Fourth of July and we want to make sure that the cruise industry can be part of that reopening of America."

Duffy was asked about getting every passenger and crew members vaccinated, and while she supports getting everyone vaccinated, it is something that no other industry is having to decide to do, "There's no mandate for any other business to have that requirement.

"We certainly are encouraging everyone to get a vaccine. I think, again, we don’t want to be treated differently than any other part of travel tourism, entertainment, or society."

The other issue with requiring the vaccine of all passengers would be children under the age of 12, which Ms. Duffy said is important to the cruise line, "children under 12 are a big part of the cruise experience in a summer, you know a family vacation, and as it stands right now, we wouldn’t be able to have kids under 12 on board."

Ms. Duffy also spoke about the significant economic impact no cruise ships are having on the U.S. economy in jobs and spending, "There’s a huge impact obviously to jobs in the cruise industry but also what people don’t think about is all of the indirect impacts that we have, if you take a place like Alaska, where the bulk of tourism comes from people who sail on cruise ships."

"We employ about 500,000 people in the U.S.and we’ve lost about 300,000 direct jobs at this point."

Carnival's restart plans are more than just talk. The line has a handful of ships held back for a potential restart in July from ports in Florida, Texas, and Washington.

There are three ships that are not cancelled for July, including Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze from Galveston, and Carnival Horizon from Miami. 

Carnival also said if there is an option to sail to Alaska, then the Carnival Miracle will takeover sailings for Carnival Freedom from Seattle.

Carnival is also the only cruise line among the major lines not to announce restart plans outside the United States.

Norwegian Cruise Line will sail from the Caribbean and Europe this summer, and Royal Caribbean will do the same.

Cruise industry wants you to tell President Biden to let cruise ships sail again

In:
Category: 
15May2021

The cruise industry is asking cruise fans once again to voice their support for the industry.

The pace of progress by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is stifling a rapid return to service, and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is now asking cruise fans and industry insiders to tell the White House how they feel.

In March 2021, CLIA implored cruise fans to contact their elected officials in the House and Senate and tell them to urge the Biden Administration to lift the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO). 

Now, CLIA wants everyone to contact President Joe Biden and tell him the same thing.

A new call to action has been sent out to those that used CLIA's Action Center previously to do it again, but this time send messages to the Biden Administration.

"Please take a moment to Email the White House and let the Biden Administration know that there is no reason cruising should not be able to resume in the United States in July!", the email says.

CLIA calls the current CDC requirements for vaccinated cruisers, "inconsistent" with rules the agency provides for the general public.

"By July, current trends indicate that at least 70% of the adult population will have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and many sectors will be operating at significantly increased, if not full, capacity. And yet, cruise ships are still subject to outdated guidance and restrictions."

In order to make it simple to contact President Biden (and your elected officials too), CLIA has updated their Action Center website with a new option that includes the President.

The hope is with enough pressure, the government will act to get cruise ships sailing this summer and salvage the season, including Alaska cruises.

Why should cruise ships be able to sail?

Cruise ships have been shutdown in the United States since March 2020, when the cruise industry volunteered to stop cruising in the early days of the global health crisis.  Since then, the CDC instituted a ban on cruise ships.

While restaurants, ballparks, music venues, convention centers, casinos, and countless other venues reopen or begin easing restrictions with little or no vaccine requirements, the cruise industry is still shut down despite enhanced public health measures, and even proposing to operate some voyages exclusively with vaccinated passengers and crew. 

The cruise industry has adopted sweeping new health protocols that are unparalleled in the travel industry. Lead by an independent group of scientists and public health experts, the Healthy Sail Panel has provided the industry with clear ways to offer cruises in a responsible and low risk manner during the current health crisis.

Cruise ships will employ testing for every passenger and crew member, new ways of circulating air and filtration, enhanced cleanliness onboard, and contact tracing.

No other form of leisure travel employs as sophisticated or extensive protocols, nor do any have to answer to the CDC for permission to operate.

CDC adds new rules for screening cruise ship passengers and back to back cruisers

In:
Category: 
15May2021

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made another update to its rules for cruise ships wishing to restart cruises from the United States.

On Friday, the federal agency added new guidelines to its Operations Manual, which provide the cruise industry with requirements and recommendations for cruises to begin.

These directions apply to both test cruises, as well as revenue cruises while the Conditional Sail Order (CSO) is in effect.

Screening new cruise ship passengers

The CDC now requires cruise lines to look for symptoms or signs of COVID-19 and screen for a known close contact exposure to a person with COVID-19 within the past 14 days.

Passengers with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 could still go on the cruise if they are fully vaccinated, but denied boarding if not fully vaccinated and without documentation of recovery.

Passengers who have a known close contact exposure in the past 14 days will also be denied boarding if not fully vaccinated and without documentation of recovery. Fully vaccinated may board at the cruise line's discretion.

The CDC defines documentation of recovery from COVID-19 as:

  • Paper or electronic copies of their previous positive viral test result (dated no more than 90 days ago), and
  • A signed letter, on official letterhead that contains the name, address, and phone number of a licensed healthcare provider or public health official, stating that the traveler has been cleared to end isolation and therefore can travel. A letter that states that they have been cleared to end isolation to return to work or school is also acceptable. The letter does not have to specifically mention travel.

Passenger testing on test cruises and revenue cruises

The CDC outlined what type of tests are required for fully and unvaccinated passengers.

Fully vaccinated passengers do not need to be tested on embarkation day, disembarkation day, or even going on a back to back sailing. While embarkation testing is not required, international travelers arriving in the U.S. are recommended to be tested 3-5 days after arrival, including those who are fully vaccinated. Cruise operators may follow this recommendation at their discretion.

Those that are not vaccinated, will need to take a Viral (NAAT or antigen) test for embarkation day, disembarkation day, and if doing a back to back.

The CDC gives cruise lines choices in which tests cruise lines can administer, but the agency recommends Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) for use on cruise ships because it is less likely to miss cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection (i.e., higher sensitivity) when compared to antigen testing.

What is a NAAT test? There are a few of them, but the most well-known is the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

The CDC also says self-tests are not accepted at this time.

Another round of changes by the CDC

The updates are the latest revision by the CDC, following months of inaction.

On Wednesday, the CDC issued new updates as well and relaxed a few rules related to mask wearing on a cruise ship.

Much of the cruise industry has called on the CDC to provide updated guidance that matches the science of today, as well as the realities of what is happening in society.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley welcomed the updates as a "step" towards cruises returning, "Late last night we received multiple updates to the CSO from the CDC. All reflect the significant progress made with the vaccines."

"Reading the updates last night and this morning give me increased optimism. Today the light at the end of this long dark tunnel is bright. One step at a time !"

And the Operations Manual for cruise lines still retains a great deal of requirements that are either outdated, or things no other industry is compelled to do, such as designating certain stairwells as "up" and "down",or suggesting guests wear a proximity band to alert them if they are too close to someone else.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) CEO Frank Del Rio has been the most outspoken critic of the CDC, and told Fox News recently the CDC was "unfair" in its treatment of the cruise industry.

"Every other transportation venue, entertainment venue, hospitality venue is open around the country, and we're still shut down after 15 months," he told Cavuto. "It's unfair. It's un-American."

"If there was science-fact information, we would accept it," Del Rio said. "They never shared any data with us, any scientific data or any data, period, and so, look, it seems to me they make this stuff up as they go along."

CDC updates some of its rules for cruise ships

In:
Category: 
12May2021

A week after releasing its requirements and recommendations for cruise ships to implement as part of its test cruises, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated a handful of the rules. 

While the cruise industry welcomed a significant update from the CDC, many of the requirements were seen as over bearing and lacking scientific merit, especially since many or all of the passengers will be fully vaccinated. 

In order to conduct test or revenue cruises, cruise lines must adhere to the CDC's requirements, and subsequently apply for permission to operate from the United States.

The CDC updated the cruise lines on Wednesday with new revisions to the Operations Manual.

The updates focus in a few key areas, and attempt to slightly loosen the previous guidance primarily for fully vaccinated passengers. 

In the CDC's email, they outlined a few key areas of change:

  • Vaccinated passengers are no longer required to wear a mask outside (except in crowded spaces), but unvaccinated passengers still must, including while sunbathing on lounge chairs spaced 6 feet apart and in between bites and sips during outdoor meal service.  
  • All passengers (vaccinated or not) must still wear a mask in between bites and sips while dining indoors.  
  • The ban on independent shoreside exploration for all passengers (vaccinated and not) has been moved from a requirement to a recommendation 
  • Buffets are still prohibited, even on fully vaccinated sailings.
  • The new update continues to treat vaccinated sailings the exact same as sailings that include a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers. It treats vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers differently in some scenarios, but continues to impose the same requirements for cruise ships that require 100% vaccination as compared to those that will allow a mix.

Rescinding the shore excursion rule to a recommendation is arguably the best of the changes announced, as it leaves the decision the cruise lines and what is happening at the time of travel. 

The CDC's guidance matches Norwegian Cruise Line's change in allowing guests to book independent tours.

Unfortunately, many of the other rewording and changes leave the requirements still with a lack of common sense considering the high levels of vaccinated passengers, as well as what is happening in society on land today.

As an example, the CDC calls for an elimination of all self-service buffets and salad bars. Supermarkets around the United States have brought back their buffets months ago, and the buffets in Las Vegas are reopening, with restaurants permitted to offer 80 percent capacity and three feet of social distancing.

The guidance still retains outdated recommendations, like designating certain stairwells as "up" and "down",or suggesting guests wear a proximity band to alert them if they are too close to someone else.

At its heart, the CDC's guidance remains outdated, and slow to respond to even basic changes.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio called the CDC's guidelines "unfair" and "never consistent."

He specifically called out the rule requiring vaccinated patrons to put their masks back on between bites in a restaurant., "Even though everyone onboard would be vaccinated, in between bites of your meal and in between sips of your beverage, you have to put on your mask, take off your mask."

"Nobody should order soup because your mask might get sloppy. That to me is just preposterous."

Texas joins lawsuit against CDC to get cruises restarted

In:
Category: 
05May2021

Another state has joined the lawsuit to get cruise ships sailing again.

The State of Texas has joined the lawsuit against the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that was started by Florida.

Texas is the second state to join the lawsuit, following Alaska last week.

DisneyCruiseLineBlog discovered the filing, which was filed on May 5.

In the lawsuit, Texas says it is suing the CDC because the "CDC’s outdated and unlawful regulation harms the State of Texas, its economy, and its citizens."

Specifically, Texas believes the Conditional Sail Order (CSO) is unlawful and has a great effect on the local economy.

This litigation concerns the lawfulness of a CDC regulatory order with a profound effect on the Texas public fisc, including tax revenues to the state and the well-being of multiple industries vital to the State’s economy. The CDC order also raises constitutional concerns bearing on the lawfulness and reach of the CDC’s authority.

The first hearing in the lawsuit is scheduled for May 12.

The lawsuit comes just days after a rally was held in Galveston when the Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista arrived at the port to begin crew vaccinations.

Carnival Cruise Line joined members of the Federal Maritime Commission, Galveston city and port officials and local businesses at the Port of Galveston to highlight the economic impact of cruising in Galveston and throughout Texas.

In the lawsuit, Texas believes the Port of Galveston is uniquely situated to address local Covid-19 concerns. The port is located just one mile from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston UTMB is one of the largest academic medical hospitals in the country, and its facilities include a National Biosafety Level 4 Laboratory.

The Port of Galveston has also already held a table-top exercise preparing for possible COVID-19 outbreaks on-ship.

Texas also states the shutdown has cost the state $1.2 billion in direct spending. The cruise shutdown has also cost 23,000 jobs, and $1.6 billion in lost wages across the State of Texas.

What the lawsuit aims to do

The purpose of the lawsuit is to get the CSO dropped immediately, so that cruise lines can pursue restart plans.

While the CDC has recently updated its guidance and provided instructions for cruise lines to restart operations, the lawsuit wants the cruise lines to be unencumbered by the regulations.  

Texas wants the cruise lines to adhere to "reasonable restrictions within its statutory authority" instead of the CDC's order.

How does the new CDC update factor in?

One major change that the lawsuit does not cover is the recent announcement by the CDC to provide the test sailing steps for cruise lines to restart sailings.

Cruise lines received final technical guidelines on Wednesday from the CDC for the trial runs. When Florida filed its lawsuit last month, much of the impetus behind it was a lack of progress by the CDC.

Test cruises will be between two and seven nights and must have enough passengers to meet at least 10% of the ship's capacity. Volunteers must be 18 or older and either fully vaccinated or free of medical conditions that would put them at high risk for severe Covid-19.

Restrictions on board will include face masks and social distancing.

Alternatively, cruise ships could skip the test sailings if they can ensure 98% of crew and 95% of passengers are vaccinated.

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