Following word that Carnival may relocate its ships to non-U.S. markets, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it may allow cruises out of U.S. ports by mid-summer under certain restrictions.
The update was first reported by Bloomberg on Tuesday (Apr. 6).
While the details are still fuzzy, the report cites a CDC spokesperson that said the CDC’s "goal aligns with the desire to resume passenger operations in the United States expressed by many major cruise ship operators and travellers; hopefully, by mid-summer with restricted revenue sailings.”
As other cruise lines have unveiled summer itineraries at ports in the Caribbean and Europe, Carnival, on Tuesday, said it may have no choice but to leave U.S. waters as the CDC’s process drags on.
“While we have not made plans to move Carnival Cruise Line ships outside of our U.S. home ports, we may have no choice but to do so in order to resume our operations, which have been on ‘pause’ for over a year,” president Christine Duffy said in a statement.
This comes after Carnival announced it would be extending its pause in all operations from U.S. ports through June 30, 2021.
It includes a phased process that cruise companies must meet in order to sail out of U.S.-based ports.
Cruise and trade companies have since blasted the long-drawn process, with the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), representing 95 per cent of global ocean-going cruise capacity, calling the CDC’s latest framework “burdensome” and “largely unworkable.”
The CDC updated its guidance for cruise ships on April 2, outlining technical instructions while stressing the need for COVID-19 vaccinations as a necessary step before passenger sailings can resume out of U.S. ports.
“The instructions are at odds with the approach the CDC and governments in other parts of the world apply to all other travel and tourism segments in mitigating the risk of COVID-19,” CLIA said in a statement on Apr. 5. “On the same day CDC issued new onerous requirements for the cruise industry, five months after the original order, CDC issued relaxed guidance for domestic and international travel due to vaccination progress and recognition of the improved public health environment.”
Nearly 400,000 passengers have sailed from Europe and parts of Asia since last summer following “stringent, science-based protocols that resulted in a far lower incident rate than on land,” said CLIA, which is requesting the CDC drop its conditional framework and allow U.S. sailings to resume by July.
“The irony,” the association said, is that an American can fly to any number of destinations to take a cruise, but cannot board a ship in the U.S.
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