Today (June 3, 2020) CDC Guidelines were released outlining a series of steps cruise lines must take during the no sail order in order to get crew members back to their home countries. Cruise lines must meet criteria listed in a chart in order to repatriate crew members who are still on board ships. Click here to view the CDC guidelines for the cruise lines to repatriate crew members.
These CDC guidelines, in my opinion, are unfair and ridiculous. First of all, cruise ships account for a tiny, tiny fraction of Covid-19 cases. Cruise lines have been portrayed in all media outlets as responsible for the spread of the disease and criticized for keeping crew members on board the ships. The truth is, thousands of crew members have gotten to their home countries because of efforts made by the cruise lines and the delays in repatriation are from other countries refusing to allow crew members to enter the country.
The CDC guidelines break down into three categories: Green, Yellow, and Red. It’s not the categorization I object to but the criteria which have to be met in order to allow crew members to get home. For example, to receive and maintain “Green Ship” status there can be “No confirmed cases of COVID-19 or COVID-like illness for 28 days, as determined by a qualified medical professional.” That’s difficult on it’s own, but combined with “If the ship received ship-to-ship transfers within the past 28 days, crew must have come from a ship that had no confirmed COVID-19 or COVID-like illness within the 28 days before the transfer occurred.”
To top it off, the cruise line has to confirm this status weekly. This type of guideline feels impossible to achieve and maintain and in my mind fuels the “cruise lines are the cause of all our Covid woes and are holding their crew members hostage!” message. Neither of which are true, by the way.
I see this as the early version of what cruise lines are going to have to do in order to be released from the no sail order and allowed to continue sailing. Bottom line is changes need to be made — and are being made (click here to read NCL’s Sail Safe policy) — to ensure the health and safety of crew members and guests. They include things like thorough full ship cleanings between sailings and constant disinfecting of public and high traffic areas on board. These just released guidelines don’t feel realistic or logical for the repatriation of crew members or the future when cruising resumes.