In something of an about-face, the CDC is now saying they may ease or modify their conditional sailing order (CSO) to allow U.S.-based cruise ships to start sailing again as soon as mid-summer.
This whole thing is turning into a soap opera, y’all.
Thanks to COVID, cruises, of course, have been on “pause” since March 2020. A conditional sailing order was put into place in the fall of 2020 and since then everything has remained status quo – no updates on what cruise ships needed to do next in order to eventually be able to sail again. All this while the airline, hotel, train and other travel industries were allowed to continue with their business.
In March 2021, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) finally put its foot down and requested the CDC to lift the order several months early, or at least do SOMETHING. The CDC’s response was to say that the CSO would hold and cruises wouldn’t sail until fall of 2021.
Needless to say, that got EVERYBODY mad – cruise companies, travel agents, every company that works in conjunction with cruise lines, cruisers, you name it. Cruise Lines International Association, the U.S. Travel Association and the governor of Florida all called on the CDC to essentially get off the pot and update its guidance regarding cruise ships sailing out of U.S. ports.
Which they finally did. Sort of. As briefly as possible. And at 5pm Friday on a holiday (Easter) weekend. With not really enough information to go on.
Through all of this, and especially by this point, the cruise lines appeared to have “had it.” Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line both decided to offer cruises originating in the Bahamas. Norwegian sent a letter to the CDC and asked if their cruises could sail out of U.S. ports by July 4th if they required everyone on the ship to be vaccinated.
And then the biggie, Carnival Cruise Line, lost patience. Christine Duffy, president of the Miami-base cruise line contacted the CDC and said:
We are asking that the cruise industry be treated on par with the approach being taken with other travel and tourism sectors, as well as U.S. society at large. 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.
That may have been the tipping point, because, as per a report on Bloomberg, the CDC is now saying there’s a possibility of cruises being able to resume mid-summer.
“CDC is committed to working with the cruise industry and seaport partners to resume cruising following the phased approach outlined in the conditional sailing order,” CDC spokeswoman Jade Fulce said in a response to questions about Carnival. “This goal aligns with the desire to resume passenger operations in the United States expressed by many major cruise ship operators and travelers; hopefully, by mid-summer with restricted revenue sailings.”
So now we’ll all wait to see what happens next. Will the CDC move forward to allow a path for cruise lines to sail out of the U.S. this summer? If they don’t, will Carnival remove its ships from U.S. ports and sail from somewhere else? Stay tuned…
Feature Photo: Carnival Cruise
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary