The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday lifted the “sea ban” on US cruise ships and laid out a framework for how ocean cruises operations can restart. .
Under the new structure, travel companies must demonstrate compliance with strict health and safety procedures including extensive testing, quarantine measures and social distancing. If they meet these CDC standards, first in a series of crew-only test trips, they will eventually be allowed to continue passenger excursions.
The “no sails”; order was initially issued on 14 March for all US cruises after it was reported that cruise ships played a key role in the initial boom. of the coronavirus virus. The ships spread the virus significantly effectively: On the cruise ship Diamond Princess in Japan in February, each case of Covid-19 infection was passed on to about 15 other people. In Wuhan, China – the first hub of the virus – one person has transmitted the disease to about four other people, a study recently published in the Journal of Tourism Medicine found.
In September, the CDC recommended an extension of the policy until February amid reports of outbreaks on board ships in other countries, but that advice was rejected by the White House anti-virus task force. rejected.
Restrictions on sailings have devastated the yacht industry with companies reporting billions of dollars in damage because their fleets are still idling in open waters or in ports. In recent months, the cruise operators have been trying to bring together teams of scientists and medical experts to come up with comprehensive safety procedures that allow the journey to return, and they have come up with a the long list of recommendations for the CDC
On Friday, the CDC said the benefits of the new framework outweigh the costs of not allowing cruise ships to sail, providing the flexibility for companies that have taken the necessary precautions to minimize risk. and continue to prohibit activities for companies that do not take necessary measures.
This is a decision that will likely affect travel in the coming months.
How long will I be able to board the cruise ship?
In short, not soon.
The first ships sailing in U.S. waters will be simulated cruises designed to test a ship’s ability to implement safety and health protocols and demonstrate reduced potential. minimizing the risks of the Covid-19 vessel on board.
Cruise lines will not be allowed to commence passenger operations until they have met all the requirements and have been granted a conditional Covid-19 cruise license issued by the CDC.
Most of the major travel agencies have announced that they will not resume operations until 2021.
The biggest travel agencies, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and MSC, canceled their trips until the end of November. Last month, Carnival canceled all travel for 2020, except those between Miami and Port Canaveral, Fla., Are scheduled to restart in December.
What safety measures can I expect?
Vessels will be required to have a quick laboratory check of all passengers and crew on boarding and disembarkation dates. In-flight check-in will be developed in collaboration with the CDC to test all passengers with symptoms, including crew members and prospective passengers.
Under the new order, cruise ship operators must meet standards for hand hygiene, face covering and social distance for passengers and crew, as well as cleaning on board. Dining services and entertainment venues will be modified to ensure that physical distance is achievable.
Does that mean I’ll have to wear a mask?
As for test flights, the CDC states that the mask is one of the measures that “may be required by CDC specifications or orders,” but it does not indicate where and when they can be request. Use of masks was included among the proposals from industry executives for the CDC
What if I test positive for coronavirus?
Passengers who test positive for Covid-19 before boarding a cruise ship will not be allowed on board. Those with positive results on board will be quarantined and then transferred to a dedicated onshore facility. All remaining passengers and nonessential crew will also be required to quarantine. In the spring, some passengers have spent weeks imprisoned in their rest rooms after incidents broke out on their travel.
Cruise operators must have appropriate medical, professional and trained equipment to treat seriously ill passengers contracted with Covid-19 while on board until they can be transferred. all to shore medical facilities.
Are passengers allowed on shore excursions?
Onshore excursions will initially be strictly controlled and limited to private and domestic destinations. Cruise operators are putting in place procedures for veterinary providers for shore cruises to ensure that they adhere to the applicable health and safety procedures on board. Measures include physical separation, hygiene, personal protective equipment, screening and staff training.
During a recent trip by the Costa Diadema, an Italian cruise ship operated by Carnival Corporation, cases were mutilated even though they were examined after a passenger cruised the coast on the Greek Islands. The guests showed no symptoms and tested positive on re-entry to Italy.
Under the new CDC requirements, cruise ships will not be allowed to travel for more than seven days. This time period can be shortened or lengthened based on public health considerations.
The health authority’s framework applies to cruise ships intending to operate in U.S. waters.