News outlets have been speculating on cruises restarting in July, based on the rumor of a letter from the CDC outlining specific steps for cruise lines to restart. Speculating is the key word here. Until today, the cruise lines have remained quiet while continuing to announce new itineraries sailing from non US ports. The CDC has also — until today — remained silent.
With all the guesswork, reading of the tea leaves, and crystal ball gazing that has been going on, it’s not surprising that everyone reads into and hears something different in the reports. Travel agents are cautiously optimistic, consumers anxious about the prospect of cruises restarting from US ports in July are overly optimistic (maybe confused with these most recent reports and the announcement of cruises restarting from foreign ports), and those who have a negative opinion about cruising have plenty to say, as well.
Today, however, the CDC released the steps for the next phase of the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order. The announcement states, in part, that there are two steps cruise lines can take toward getting back in the water in US ports. One way is for the cruise lines to prove that 98% of crew and 95% of passengers are vaccinated. The other path to restarting cruises in US ports is to operate simulated cruises. In both cases these are just the next steps and it is my belief that cruises restarting in July from US ports is highly unlikely, even though today’s announcement is a huge step toward restarting.
On May 5, 2021, CDC released the next two phases of the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) for cruise ships operating or seeking to operate in U.S. waters. CDC published technical instructions for cruise ship operators preparing to conduct simulated (“trial”) voyages in advance of restricted passenger voyages under a COVID-19 Conditional Sailing Certificate. With the issuance of these next two phases, cruise ship operators now have all the necessary requirements and recommendations they need 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. CDC may adjust these requirements and recommendations based on public health considerations and other factors.CDC
The fine print of this update contains a LOT of information, most of it restating the requirements for being able to detect and manage any active COVID-19 cases, how the cruise lines have to work with US ports to ensure safety of those communities, and specifics of what simulated cruises must include. Again, the takeaway is even though I think cruises restarting in July from US ports is unlikely, cruises from non-US ports are available this Summer.
Even without a specific restart date, today’s announcement is good news because the cruise lines have a better idea of what they’ll have to do to get back in US waters. Once they review the announcement, begin making plans, and eventually start carrying them out we’ll have a clearer idea of when cruises will be restarting from US ports. If you have questions about the announcement, want information about cruises sailing from outside the US, and/or want to begin planning your next cruise, lets talk: 844-483-6669.