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Cruises Resuming

CDC announces new instructions for cruise lines to be able to restart cruises from United States

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05May2021

Cruise lines now have what they need to resume cruises from the United States.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the next two phases of its Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) that will allow for the "eventual resumption of U.S. cruise industry operations."

According to the CDC, cruise line now have all necessary requirements needed "to start simulated voyages before resuming restricted passenger voyages and apply for a COVID-19 conditional sailing certificate to begin sailing with restricted passenger voyages." 

The new instructions cover the test cruises that cruise ships would need to conduct in order to start sailing passenger sailings under a COVID-19 Conditional Sailing Certificate. 

CDC may adjust these requirements and recommendations based on public health considerations and other factors.

Phase 2B - Test cruises

Cruise lines can apply to the CDC at least 30 calendar days prior to when a test cruise is scheduled to sail.

The documentation included in the application will specify the dates and location of the test sailing, include verification that it adheres to the various agreements and requirements of the CSO, and other documentation.

Also included in the application will be the list of protocols or practices to be simulated, which must, at a minimum, incorporate the requirements for conducting simulated voyages under these technical instructions.

Test cruises can be skipped at a cruise line's discretion if 98 percent of crew are fully vaccinated and submit to CDC a clear and specific vaccination plan and timeline to limit cruise ship sailings to 95 percent of passengers who have been verified by the cruise ship operator as fully vaccinated prior to sailing.

After applying, the CDC will respond "in a timely manner".  The CDC can oversee and inspect the test cruise, including through in-person or remote means allowing for visual observation.

Volunteers for test cruises

Cruise lines will need volunteers to help test out the ships during these simulated voyages. and has outlined new requirements for volunteers:

  • The minimum number of required volunteer passengers for each simulated voyage must be at least 10% of the maximum number of passengers permitted onboard for restricted voyages.
  • All volunteers must show proof of being fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
  • Volunteers must be made aware of the CDC's health notice regarding Covid-19 and cruise ship travel.
  • All volunteer passengers must be informed in writing that they are participating in a simulation of health and safety protocols that are unproven and untested in the United States for purposes of simulating a cruise ship voyage and that sailing during a pandemic is an inherently risky activity. 
  • All volunteer passengers must be at least eighteen years old or older on the day of the simulation and at the time that their consent to participate is obtained.
  • Volunteers cannot be paid, and cannot go on a sailing in exchange for consideration or future reward.
  • All volunteer passengers must agree in writing to post-disembarkation specimen collection for COVID-19 testing at 3 to 5 days after completion of the simulated voyage. 
  • To facilitate contact tracing, the cruise ship operator must advise all volunteer passengers to notify the cruise ship operator if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 or are diagnosed with COVID-19 with any SARS-CoV-2 viral test within 14 days after the voyage. Passengers who develop symptoms within 14 days should be advised to be tested. The cruise ship operator must in turn report aggregate results to CDC in the after-action report or through an amended after-action report.

Test cruise requirements

Here is a list of what cruise lines need to do during a test sailing.

  • At least one simulation must be conducted for each ship for which the cruise ship operator intends to commence restricted passenger voyages. 
  • Simulated voyages must be between 2-7 days in length with a least one overnight stay to test the efficacy of the cruise ship operator’s ability to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 onboard the cruise ship, including through embarkation, disembarkation, and post-disembarkation testing.
    • CDC recommends a minimum voyage length of 3 days with 2 overnight stays.
  • The cruise ship operator must meet standards during the simulated voyage for hand hygiene, use of face masks, and social distancing for passengers and crew, as well as ship sanitation, as required by CDC technical instructions or orders.
  • The cruise ship’s color-coding status must be Green or Orange at the time of the simulated voyage.
  • Activities conducted on voyages that occurred outside of U.S. waters during the period of the No Sail Order (NSO) and the CSO that were not conducted as part of a CDC-approved simulated voyage, do not count towards the activities that must be simulated on a simulated voyage. 
  • The cruise ship operator must modify meal service and entertainment venues to facilitate social distancing during the simulated voyage.
  • These activities must be conducted on one, or over the course of many, test sailings:
    • Embarkation and disembarkation procedures, as approved by U.S. port and local health authorities as part the cruise ship operator’s Phase 2A agreements, including procedures for terminal check-in.
    • Onboard activities, including seating and meal service at dining and entertainment venues.
    • Medical evacuation procedures.
    • Transfer of symptomatic passengers or crew, or those who test positive for SARS-CoV-2, from cabins to isolation rooms.
    • Onboard and shoreside isolation and quarantine, as per the terms of the cruise ship operator’s Phase 2A agreements, of at least 5% of all passengers and non-essential crew.
    • Recreational activities that the cruise ship operator intends to offer as part of any restricted passenger voyages, e.g., casinos, spa services, fitness classes, gymnasiums.
    • Private-island shore excursions if any are planned during restricted passenger voyages. The following measures must be observed on the private island:
      • Only one ship can port at the island at any one time.
      • A routine screening testing protocol must be implemented for island staff who are expected to interact with volunteer passengers or crew.
      • Mask use and social distancing must be observed on the island.
    • Port of call shore excursions if any are planned during restricted passenger voyages. The following measures must be observed on port of call shore excursions:
      • Self-guided or independent exploration by passengers during port stops must be prohibited.
      • Shore excursions must only include passengers and crew from the same ship.
      • Cruise ship operator must ensure all shore excursion tour companies facilitate social distancing, mask wearing, and other COVID-19 public health measures throughout the tour.
      • Cruise ship operators must have a protocol for managing persons with COVID-19 and close contacts at all foreign ports of call. At a minimum, the protocol must include the following:
        • Disembarkation and housing of persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 needing shore-based hospital care and their travel companion(s) for the duration of their isolation or quarantine period.
        • Commercial repatriation of U.S.-based persons with COVID-19 and close contacts only after meeting criteria to end isolation and quarantine per CDC guidance. For commercial repatriation of foreign-based persons with COVID-19 and close contacts, cruise ship operators must consult with all relevant public health authorities.

A test cruise can be ended if a threshold of COVID-19 cases is met or exceeded during the sailing.

The CDC lists the threshold at 1.5% of COVID-19 cases is detected in passengers or 1.0% of COVID-19 cases is detected in crew. This threshold can be changed later by the CDC for a variety of factors.

As an example,  if there were 1,000 passengers on a test sailing, 15 positive cases among the guests would end the cruise.

Major step forward

The new instructions provided by the CDC are the best sign yet that cruises may restart from the United States sooner, rather than later.

The test cruise instructions also put into writing the CDC's letter to the cruise lines sent last week, which provides an option to restart sailings sooner if cruise lines adhere to a 98% vaccinated rate for crew members and 95% rate for passengers.

The new instructions are a long time coming, having been promised back in October 2020 when the CSO replaced the No Sail Order.

Moreover, they follow up on the disappointing instructions the CDC provided in early April that made it seem like nothing had really changed.  With these new instructions, there appears to be a path forward.

Royal Caribbean says kids may be able to cruise under CDC's 95% vaccinated restart plan

In:
Category: 
05May2021

The cruise industry has arguably never been more optimistic about its chances to restart cruises from the United States, and kids may not be necessarily excluded.

There was speculation that the restart plans may require kids to be left out of the equation, but Royal Caribbean told travel agents today that kids are still part of the plan.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told cruise lines last week that cruises could start as soon as mid-July if they committed to sailing with 98% of crew and 95% of passengers vaccinated for COVID-19.

By requesting 95% of passengers be vaccinated instead of 100%, Royal Caribbean believes this is to allow children to sail.

 Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed, told travel agents in a webinar that the CDC's plan was purposefully left short of requiring 100% vaccinated passengers so that kids could sail.

"The reason for that is because children do not have to be vaccinated if they are under 18," Ms. Freed explained after getting asked why not require everyone to be vaccinated. "And so at this point, that is where the difference between the ninety five and one hundred percent."

"All adults will need to be vaccinated, but children under 18 do not need to be vaccinated, but they still have to take a Covid test prior to boarding."

With Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine very likely getting approval for children as young as 12 years old, that essentially leaves the 11 and under age bracket as the demographic that would not be able to be included in the 95% guideline by the CDC.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley said during last week's earnings call with investors that the amount of children under 12 years old is not a significant number, "Obviously, we carry a lot of kids 11 and under. But, relatively speaking, as a percentage of our total guest count, it’s quite a small number. So we’re not overly concerned with that."

Read moreEverything we know about if Royal Caribbean will require a vaccine

Ms. Freed also told travel agents that additional updates from Royal Caribbean and the CDC should be coming soon, "we are working daily with the CDC, and things are moving in a very fast and positive direction."

"Stay tuned to your emails from us, because we will be communicating on a daily basis as things are changing. And we do suspect within a very short period of time we will have announcements ready to go."

"Travel partners, I really feel positive about this one."

Prior to the CDC's update, Norwegian Cruise Line announced a restart plan it submitted to the CDC that would require 100% vaccinated guests onboard, which did not leave an option for unvaccinated children to sail.

If approved, 100% vaccinated guests and crew and reduced capacity initially will be part of a phased-in launch.

Florida Governor doesn't think cruise lines need ability to require vaccine proof from passengers

In:
Category: 
05May2021

Florida's Governor believes cruise lines can operate without requiring proof of a vaccine from passengers safely based on what is happening around the world.

Speaking at a press conference in Miami on Tuesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) touched on the subject of requiring proof of a vaccine for cruise ships following his ban of Covid-19 vaccine passports in the state.

Earlier this week, Governor DeSantis signed a bill that prohibits businesses from being able to ask for proof of a vaccine from their customers.

In Senate Bill (SB) 2006, it specifically states, "prohibiting a business entity from requiring patrons or customers to provide documentation certifying vaccination against or recovery from COVID-19."

A business entity, as defined in s. 768.38 to include any business operating in this state, may not require patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-infection recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business operations in this state.

This subsection does not otherwise restrict businesses from instituting screening protocols consistent with authoritative or controlling government-issued guidance to protect public health.

During his press conference on Tuesday, Governor DeSantis said he did not think cruise lines needed the ability to require proof of a vaccine, "Some people say, oh, well, the cruise ships need it.

"These cruise ships are sailing in other parts of the world where they don't even have vaccines available and they're doing it safely and people are having a good time on it. So so they can do it."

Governor DeSantis appears to be referring to cruise ships sailing currently from Asia and Europe, such as Quantum of the Seas from Singapore.

Quantum of the Seas has been operating from Singapore since December 2020, although Singapore is a country with less than 400 active cases of Covid-19 at the moment.

The new Florida law potentially puts it at odds with the new opportunity from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), which would allow cruise ships to restart sailings sooner if they have at least 95% vaccinated cruise passengers.

If cruise lines were to require 95% vaccinated passengers, they could skip test sailings and other regulartory hurdles and return to service much faster.

Royal Caribbean has not officially decided if it will require its cruise ship passengers to get a vaccine as a matter of fleet wide policy, although it is requiring the vaccine for select ships that will be restarting cruises outside the United States this summer.

DeSantis defended the vaccine passport ban by saying he is concerned it could be used by companies to restrict people from even basic functions, "you don't want a society in which just to do basic things, restaurant, movie, you know, go on an airplane that you have to be producing proof of this."

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley indicated it would be possible for some ships to start cruising under the vaccinated approach, while others could pursue restart under the Conditional Sail Order rules without a vaccine requirement.

Last week, Mr. Bayley spoke about these options, "There'll be really two pathways, one pathway for vaccinated crew and largely vaccinated guests that meet the threshold that they've defined. And that would mean that there wouldn't be a requirement for a simulated voyage etc, and there would be a different expectation on protocols and planning. So it's a faster route."

"And then for ships that wouldn't wouldn't meet that threshold for whatever reason, there would be a different timeline and a different set of protocols and requirements."

"So fundamentally that there's two pathways. It's not that simple, but that's a way of simplifying."

Cruise lines have not talked publicly yet about how the new bill might affect their restart plans.  The new bill goes into effect July 1st.

If a cruise line were to not pursue the 95% vaccinated option by the CDC, it appears they could still restart cruises under the conditions set out in the CDC's Conditional Sail Order, which requires significantly more time and milestones to hit that involve test cruises before revenue sailings could begin.

Royal Caribbean begins vaccinating crew members in Miami

In:
04May2021

More Royal Caribbean crew members are getting vaccinated so they can get back to work onboard.

Already two Royal Caribbean cruise ships have made stops in Miami to get some of their crew members Covid-19 vaccine shots, and two more are scheduled for today.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley shared photos of crew members stopping in for the vaccine.

So far, Explorer of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas have had some crew members get the vaccine, along with Celebrity Equinox.

Mr. Bayley posted on Facebook the importance of getting crew ready so cruises can begin again soon, "It is going to be extremely important our crew are vaccinated."

"We are working to help make this possible and have been assured vaccine availability will significantly improve in the coming weeks and months globally."

"I encourage all crew to get vaccinated at home if possible and to be guided by their national health authority."

Photos shared by Michael Bayley

He even said that letters of employment "will be coming soon. Crewing is starting up".

Miami is one of at least three ports now welcoming cruise ships in so that its crew members can get vaccinated.

It was speculated, but never confirmed, that Odyssey of the Seas began getting its crew members vaccinated during a brief stop in Israel two weeks ago.

Photo by Omar Israel G S, Human Resources Specialist

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees approved an expansion to vaccine eligibility in Florida to include individuals who are in the state for purpose of providing good or services for the benefit of residents and visitors of Florida.

Not only does Royal Caribbean need to vaccinate crew members, but it needs to get more of them back onboard before any cruises can begin.

Mr. Bayley told one crew member on Facebook that Pfizer is the vaccine being distributed to crew.

Currently, most ships are running at minimal staffing levels in order to keep costs low while there are no cruises, but more crew members need to be brought back (and subsequently vaccinated) for a ship to truly be ready for cruises again.

Royal Caribbean said in February 2021 that it would staff its ships with vaccinated crew, and Mr. Bayley's comments encourage crew to get vaccinated at home if possible to speed up that process.

In addition, cruise ships can restart faster if at least 98% of the crew members are vaccinated, along with 95% of passengers.

CDC update means there are now two potential timelines for cruise ships to restart

In:
Category: 
29Apr2021

The cruise industry is abuzz with the news that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has provided an update for cruise ships to restart by summer 2021.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley was quite optimistic about the chances for cruises to resume in July.

"I think this commitment to mid-July is looking very realistic based upon what we we saw last night," Bayley told Wall Street analysts during an earnings call on Thursday.

"I think the target that's been stated and that we've all been working towards is a mid July. And I think that after what we received last night, it's looking very realistic."

Part of that optimism is based in the CDC allowing cruise ships to restart cruises again and bypass test cruises if 95% of the passengers and 98% of the crew are fully vaccinated.

The changes follow up on a better relationship between the cruise industry and the CDC.  Mr. Bayley said, "we've been in very constructive dialogue with the CDC over the past few weeks."

"I think the mood of Royal Caribbean last night and late into the night and then just speaking also to some of our industry colleagues was simply positive that all of this dialogue that was constructive had resulted in and clearly being heard."

Two pathways

One of the major tenets of the CDC's letter was cruise ships can bypass the required simulated test voyages and go directly to revenue sailings if 98% of crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated.

During the call, Mr. Bayley elaborated on the possibility of some ships requiring the vaccine, while others may not.

"There'll be really two pathways, one pathway for vaccinated crew and largely vaccinated guests that meet the threshold that they've defined. And that would mean that there wouldn't be a requirement for a simulated voyage etc, and there would be a different expectation on protocols and planning. So it's a faster route."

"And then for ships that wouldn't wouldn't meet that threshold for whatever reason, there would be a different timeline and a different set of protocols and requirements."

"So fundamentally that there's two pathways. It's not that simple, but that's a way of simplifying."

Both Bayley and Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain warned that there's still a lot of uncertainty about what the CDC update means, and Royal Caribbean has already reached out to the CDC for clarification.

Will enough people be vaccinated?

Mr. Bayley cited surveys of their customer base as a good sign that many cruisers are willing to, or have already, be vaccinated in order to cruise.

"There's an overwhelming certainty for our customer base. People are just saying, I'm getting vaccinated."

"And if you skew older, the percentage increases quite significantly, mainly because, of course, when the vaccinations started, it started with the older age group first."

What about the crew?

Mr. Bayley said a recent survey pointed to a survey of crew members the cruise line conducted recently as proof Royal Caribbean could meet the threshold by the CDC, "we had over 98 percent positive response from our crew saying, yeah, we're going to get vaccinated."

Report: CDC says cruise ships could restart in mid-July with 95% vaccinated passengers

In:
Category: 
29Apr2021

A new ray of hope for cruises to sail from the United States is shining down, based on the contents of a letter.

A letter sent to the cruise industry by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates a mid-July start up is possible, provided certain requirements are met.

The letter was first shared by USA Today, and provides a much more realistic outlook for cruise ships to sail in the U.S.

The letter was penned by the CDC's head of the Maritime Unit, Aimee Treffiletti, reads, "We acknowledge that cruising will never be a zero-risk activity and that the goal of the CSO’s phased approach is to resume passenger operations in a way that mitigates the risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard cruise ships and across port communities"

A CDC spokesperson then confirmed to USA Today that cruises might be able to start up by mid-July, "CDC looks forward to continued engagement with the industry and urges cruise lines to submit Phase 2A port agreements as soon as possible to maintain the timeline of passenger voyages by mid-July."

Also included in the report are five points of clarification that give cruise lines better insight into the CDC's expectations for a restart:

  1. Ships can bypass the required simulated test voyages carrying volunteers and jump to sailings with paying passengers if 98% of crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated.
  2. CDC will review and respond to applications from cruise lines for simulated voyages within 5 days, a review previously expected to take 60 days.
  3. CDC will update its testing and quarantine requirements for passengers and crew on sailings with paying passengers to align with the CDC's guidance for fully vaccinated people. So, for example, instead of taking a PCR lab test ahead of boarding vaccinated passengers can take a rapid antigen test upon embarkation. 
  4. CDC has clarified that cruise ship operators may enter into a "multi-port agreement" rather than a single port agreement as long as all port and local authorities sign the agreement. 
  5. The CDC has clarified guidance on quarantine guidelines for passengers who may be exposed to or contract COVID-19. For example, local passengers may be able to drive home and passengers who have traveled by air to cruise may quarantine in a hotel.

Pressure has been mounting across different platforms to give cruise lines a chance to resume sailing.  Lawsuits, new legislation, and a vigorous write-in campaign have been some of the new initiatives thrown at the CDC after months of inaction by the agency.

The updated information in the CDC's letter follows blow back on the CDC after they released updated technical guidance for its Framework for Conditional Sailing on April 1.

The new guidance was largely seen as lacking and impractical. CLIA called it, "unduly burdensome, largely unworkable".

Moreover, it seems the CDC is still adhering to a zero-risk objective rather than the mitigation approach to Covid that so many others facets of life have adopted.

Vaccine requirement

Besides the new communication, the clause that allows cruise ships to bypass the test cruises if they have 95% fully vaccinated passengers and 98% fully vaccinated crew members is a new change.

So far, Royal Caribbean has said it has not made a decision on if it will require the vaccine for all of its ships, although all of the ships sailing this summer from the Caribbean and Europe will require it.

Read moreEverything we know about if Royal Caribbean will require a vaccine

On April 5, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings submitted a proposal that included 100% vaccination of guests and crew onboard, as well as strict health and safety protocols for all sailing through October 31, 2021.

NCLH believes by requiring vaccines of every single person onboard its ships initially, in addition to comprehensive protocols including universal COVID-19 testing, their plan exceeds the intent of the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order (CSO).

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has gone on record by saying he does not think private business should be able to require a vaccine for its passengers.

"I'm very supportive of getting our cruise lines back up and running," Gov. DeSantis said in an interview. "We think they should be able to sail. But we also don't think that they should be able to require your personal health information in that regard."

Backing up his opinion is a new State of Florida Executive Order that prohibits Covid-19 vaccine passports (EO 21-81).

Section 2 of the Executive Order prohibits businesses from requiring their customers to "provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business."

Royal Caribbean reaction

So far, two of Royal Caribbean's top executives have publicly commented on the letter.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley posted on Facebook he is excited about the potential of this change, "Last night, we received great news from the CDC who expressed their commitment to the resumption of cruising this summer.

"This is a result of the consistent conversations we have been having with the agency to determine the best path for our return to service. Thank you all for making your voices heard and for believing in our industry. We will be back!"

Read moreRoyal Caribbean talks about CDC letter and what it means for kids

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain also mentioned the letter in the company's business update for investors, "

Last night, the CDC notified us of some clarifications and amplifications of their Conditional Sail Order which addressed uncertainties and concerns we had raised," Mr. Fain said in a statement.

"They have dealt with many of these items in a constructive manner that takes into account recent advances in vaccines and medical science."

Senate blocks passage of new bill to allow cruise ships to restart sailing

In:
Category: 
22Apr2021

A new bill was introduced last week that aimed to get cruise ships sailing again, but the Senate has blocked the bill from passing.

The Careful Resumption Under Improved Safety Enhancements (CRUISE) Act was introduced by by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Senator Sullivan released a statement to the press noting that Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) objected, preventing the bill from passing.

The purpose of the CRUISE Act is to bypass the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) ban of cruise ships and allow ships to sail again as early as July.

Read moreSenators introduce new bill for cruise ships to sail without CDC approval

Speaking on the Senate floor, Senator Scott implored action for the fair treatment of cruises, "My colleagues and I are simply asking the CDC to provide a timeline when the cruise industry can begin to reopen like so many other sectors and the cruise that ensures they can do that in a safe manner."

"The CDC is treating the cruise sector unfairly while other industries are open for business. There is no reason why America's cruise industry and the thousands of jobs that rely on US success should continue to suffer. Cruises can and should resume. And we're going to do everything we can to bring about cruising safely."

Sen. Murray objected to the legislation, claiming cruise ships need new rules, "Cruise ships require specific focus and protocols in place to prevent future outbreaks."

The entire cruise industry has committed to sweeping new health and safety protocols derived by an independent group public health experts, led by former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt and former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Dr. Scott Gottlieb.

These protocols include testing of every person onboard, social distancing, face masks and much more.

Sen. Murray continued, "We must trust the science and we must allow the CDC to continue its work to help us return to what we love as safely as possible."

"So I will continue to work with CDC and the administration as they develop the next phase of their cruising guidance, but for now, I object."

If passed, the CRUISE Act would revoke the CDC's current Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) on cruises and require the CDC to provide Covid-19 mitigation guidance for cruise lines to safely resume operations. 

Representatives Don Young (R-Alaska) and María Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.) have introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

If the Cruise Act were passed, it would override the CSO.

"Not later than July 4, 2021, the Secretary shall revoke the order entitled ‘‘Framework for Conditional Sailing and Initial Phase COVID–19 Testing Requirements for Protection of Crew’’, issued by the Director on November 4, 2020 (85 Fed. Reg. 70153), under the authority of sections 361 and 365 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 264; 268), and any other order or regulation that prohibits the operation of all cruise ships in United States waters, requires such ships to obtain approval from the Director prior to operating, or otherwise acts as a de facto prohibition for cruise ship operations in the United States."

The bill also proposed the creation of an interagency working group, which would issue recommendations for how to mitigate the risks of COVID–19 introduction, transmission, and spread among passengers and crew on board cruise ships and ashore to communities.

Sen. Scott pointed out the glaring double standard cruise ships are held to compared to every other sector of travel, "Today, hotels are open, airlines are flying, beaches are open, restaurants are open, tourism sites are open, amusement parks are open. They're all open."

"But for whatever reason, the cruise industry has made a decision to not allow cruising to happen. So they singled out this industry and cannot tell any of us why they've singled this out. "

"All we are asking is for the CDC to provide a timeline of when the cruise industry can begin to reopen. The cruise industry wants to do it safely."

Alaska sues CDC so that cruise ships can sail again

In:
21Apr2021

Another state is joining Florida in suing the CDC so that cruise ships can begin cruising again.

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy (R-AK) announced his state has joined in a lawsuit against the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) over its shutdown of the cruise industry for well over a year.

The decision to sue the CDC is about protecting Alaska's businesses, according to the Governor.

"Alaska's cruise ship tourism season is facing a second canceled season due to the federal government actions, which is why I'm fighting to ensure our tourism business and communities have a chance."

"Alaska is joining Florida's lawsuit against the CDC and urging them to revoke the conditional No Sail Order so we can get Alaskans, families and small businesses back up and running, which is why I'm fighting to ensure our businesses and communities have a fighting chance."

Governor Dunleavy is following up on his threat from a couple weeks ago that he would sue the CDC if things did not progress between the federal government and the cruise lines.

Both states want the CDC to drop the Framework for Conditional Sail Order (CSO), which is not allowing cruise ships to sail in U.S. waters.

Florida Governor Ron Desantis (R-FL) announced last week his state has filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and CDC, demanding cruise ships be reopened immediately.

The impact of no cruise ships in 2020 and 2021 to Alaska has cost the state a lot of tourist dollars. Gov. Dunleavy says over the course of the two lost cruise seasons, Alaska will have a $3.3 billion loss in Alaska, "that's in a state with about a fifty six billion dollar GDP, so it's going to be significant."

In addition to the CSO, Alaska has an additional hurdle to jump over for cruise ships to return to the state. 

Canada announced it banned cruise ships for a year, which makes operating cruises from the United States to New England or Alaska nearly impossible.

Due to U.S. laws, cruise ships that are foreign flagged (which is pretty much every cruise ship on major cruise lines) must stop in a foreign port if they sail from the United States. By Canada denying entry into their waters, that leaves no foreign ports for cruise ships to sail to within the vicinity of Alaska or New England.

New House Bill introduced to override CDC's cruise ship ban

In:
Category: 
19Apr2021

Members of the House of Representatives have introduced their own bill to get cruise ships sailing again.

Coinciding with a similar bill in the United States Senate, Representative Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) introduced H.R.2554, which would allow cruise ships to sail again and circumvent the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Framework for Conditional Sail Order (CSO).

The text of the bill is not yet available, but it is co-sponsored by 14 members of congress:

  • Rep. Young, Don [R-AK-At Large]
  • Rep. Weber, Randy K., Sr. [R-TX-14]
  • Rep. Mace, Nancy [R-SC-1]
  • Rep. Gimenez, Carlos A. [R-FL-26]
  • Rep. Diaz-Balart, Mario [R-FL-25]
  • Rep. Bilirakis, Gus M. [R-FL-12]
  • Resident Commissioner Gonzalez-Colon, Jenniffer [R-PR-At Large]
  • Rep. Steube, W. Gregory [R-FL-17]
  • Rep. Carl, Jerry L. [R-AL-1]
  • Rep. Posey, Bill [R-FL-8]
  • Rep. Mast, Brian J. [R-FL-18]
  • Rep. Malliotakis, Nicole [R-NY-11]
  • Rep. Lesko, Debbie [R-AZ-8]
  • Rep. Franklin, C. Scott [R-FL-15]

The bill mirrors another bill introduced in the Senate by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) last week.

Salazar represents Florida's 27th Congressional district, which includes PortMiami.

Rep. Salazar believes the suspension of cruise ships has cost the the U.S. economy too much money, "The suspension in U.S. cruise departures has resulted in the loss of $5.64 billion to the State of Florida’s economy, the loss of 91,450 jobs, and the loss of $4.44 billion in wages. The ripple effects of these devastating losses are being felt across the nation."

If passed, the CRUISE Act would have four major tenants.

  • Requires the CDC to issue recommendations for how to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 to passengers and crew onboard cruise ships.
  • Establishes an interagency “Working Group” that will develop recommendations to facilitate the resumption of passenger cruise ship operations in the United States. The recommendations will facilitate the resumption of passenger cruise ship operations in the United States no later than July 1, 2021.   
  • No later than July 1, 2021, the CDC must revoke the order entitled “Framework for Conditional Sailing and Initial Phase COVID-19 Testing Requirements for Protection of Crew.”
  • Ensures that HHS and CDC retain all appropriate authorities to make and enforce regulations necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases on any individual cruise ship.

Last week, she walked to to the CDC and met with the Deputy Director of the CDC to work on a way for cruise ships to sail again.

In the video, Rep. Salazar commented that she “had a very good meeting” with the Deputy Director, “who assured me that we were gonna be talking to the Director very, very soon.” She also added that the Deputy Director assured that they “were gonna work together, so we could open the Port of Miami and have those cruise ships back at sea.”

Alaska Congressman Don Young is one of the co-sponsors of the bill, and feels strongly about cruises being able to restart because of the deep financial impact no cruises is having on his home state.

"Every day that passes without the lifting of CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order is one day closer to the loss of the 2021 Alaska cruise season. No federal agency should have the ability to deprive Alaskans and their businesses the opportunity to earn a living for over 31 months."

"We must trust the science; vaccines are effective and proper protocols can be put in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. With the livelihoods of countless Alaskan small businesses in the state's ports and Alaska Native communities on the line, I not only call on the CDC to recognize this perilous moment for so many small business owners, but I also ask my colleagues to cosponsor this critical bill."

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