The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday canceled their "No Sail" order for US cruise lines and set a framework for the cruise restart.
Under the new structure, cruise lines will have to demonstrate compliance with strict health and safety protocols, including extensive testing, quarantine measures and social distancing. If you have this C.D.C. Standards, initially on a series of crew-only test sails, will eventually be allowed to resume passenger excursions.
The “no sail” order was originally issued for all American cruises on March 14th after it was discovered that cruise lines played an important role in the first coronavirus outbreak. The ships have been remarkably efficient at spreading the virus: on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan in February, every case of Covid-19 has been transmitted to approximately 15 other people. In Wuhan, China – the virus' s original epicenter – one person transmitted the disease to about four other people, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Travel Medicine.
In September the C.D.C. recommended extending the policy to February amid reports of outbreaks on ships in other countries, but that advice has been overridden by a coronavirus task force at the White House.
Travel restrictions have devastated the cruise industry, and companies have reported billions in losses as their fleets have idled in open waters or in ports. Over the past several months, cruise executives have sought to assemble teams of scientists and health professionals to develop comprehensive safety protocols that enable cruise return and they have given the C.D.C. presented a long list of proposals.
On Friday the C.D.C. The benefits of the new framework outweigh the costs of not allowing cruise ships to sail. This gives flexibility to organizations that have taken the necessary precautions to reduce risk and continues to prohibit operations from those who do not take the necessary measures.
The decision is likely to affect cruises in the coming months.
How fast can i take a cruise?
In short, not soon.
The first ships to sail in U.S. waters will be simulated voyages to test a ship's ability to implement health and safety protocols and to prove the cruise line's ability to mitigate the risks of Covid-19 on board.
Cruise ships are only allowed to start passenger operations if they meet all requirements and a C.D.C. Obtained issued conditional Covid-19 sailing certificate.
Most of the major cruise lines have announced that they will not resume operations until 2021.
The largest cruise lines including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and MSC have canceled their trips until the end of November. Last month, Carnival canceled all cruises for 2020, with the exception of cruises between Miami and Port Canaveral, Florida, which are scheduled to resume in December.
What security measures can I expect?
Ships are required to conduct rapid laboratory tests on all passengers and crew on the day of embarkation and disembarkation. Onboard test functions are carried out in coordination with the C.D.C. test all symptomatic travelers, including crew members and prospective passengers.
Under the new regulation, cruise lines must adhere to standards for hand hygiene, face covering and social distancing for passengers and crew, and ship hygiene. Catering services and entertainment venues are being changed to ensure physical distancing can be implemented.
Does that mean I have to wear a mask?
For the test cruises, the C.D.C. said masks are one of the measures "adopted by C.D.C. technical instructions or orders ”, but it is not specified where and when they could be commissioned. The use of masks was one of the suggestions made by industry executives to the C.D.C.
What happens if I test positive for the coronavirus?
Passengers who test positive for Covid-19 before boarding a cruise ship are not allowed to board. Those who test positive on board a ship are isolated and then taken ashore to a special facility. All remaining passengers and non-essential crew members must also be quarantined. In the spring, some passengers spent weeks in their cabins after cases broke out on their cruises.
Cruise companies are expected to have the proper medical equipment, expertise and training to treat critically ill passengers infected with Covid-19 on board until they can be safely brought ashore to medical facilities.
Are passengers allowed to take shore excursions?
Initially, shore excursions are closely controlled and limited to private and domestic destinations. Cruise companies develop protocols for onshore excursion vet providers to ensure they adhere to health and safety protocols in place on board ships. Actions include physical distancing, hygiene, personal protective equipment, staff screening, and training.
During a recent sailing trip on the Costa Diadema, a ship owned by the Italian cruise line Carnival Corporation, cases surfaced despite tests after passengers made shore excursions in the Greek islands. The guests were asymptomatic and tested positive when they returned to Italy.
According to the new requirements of C. D.C. Cruise ships are not allowed to operate on an itinerary that is longer than seven days. This period can be shortened or lengthened for reasons of public health.
The scope of the health department applies to cruise ships wishing to operate in US waters.