WASHINGTON — A letter to the cruise industry sent by the CDC suggests cruising from U.S. ports could start by mid-July.
Consumer news outlets including USA Today quote the letter, sent by the head of the Maritime Unit for the CDC’s COVID-19 response: “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.”
In a follow-up interview the CDC told USA Today: “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 passengers voyages by mid-July.”
This latest news is in keeping with reports earlier this month that the CDC signalled a possible return to sailing U.S. ports for summer 2021.
That positive indicator from the CDC came very soon after Carnival posted its April 6 update on its website, with a message from Carnival President Christine Duffy: “While we have not made plans to move Carnival Cruise Line ships outside of our U.S. homeports, we may have no choice but to do so in order to resume our operations which have been on ‘pause’ for over a year. We appreciate the continued patience and support from our loyal guests, travel advisors and business partners as we work on a return-to-service solution.”
The day before, cruise industry organization CLIA had voiced its concern with the latest round of new measures for the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order (CSO). CLIA called the new requirements unduly burdensome and largely unworkable and reiterated its call for the CDC to lift the CSO.
Cruise line executives including NCLH President and CEO Frank Del Rio, and Royal Caribbean Cruises President Richard Fain, say they’re cautiously optimistic that the new messaging from the CDC paves the way for a return to U.S. port cruising. In recent weeks many U.S.-based cruise lines including NCL, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Crystal, Silversea and more have announced 2021 sailings from non-U.S. ports.
“This is very exciting news. Finally, the CDC has responded to the cruise industry with game changing guidance to restart cruising in the U.S.,” adds Capt. John Murray, CEO, Canaveral Port Authority.