Tuesday,  May 17, 2022  10:18 am

NCL, Oceania, Regent opt in to CDC’s voluntary COVID-19 mitigation program

  • Cruises
  •   01-17-2022  6:23 am
  •   Pax Global Media

NCL, Oceania, Regent opt in to CDC’s voluntary COVID-19 mitigation program
Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. (File photo)
Pax Global Media

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH), which operates Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, says it will opt in to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) voluntary COVID-19 risk mitigation program for foreign-flagged cruise ships operating in U.S. waters.

The “COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships Operating in U.S. Waters” came into effect on Saturday (Jan. 15) after the expiration of the Temporary Extension and Modification of Framework for Conditional Sailing Order.

As reported last week, cruise ships operating in U.S. waters, now, can now choose to participate in the CDC’s new program, which includes guidance and recommendations for ships to operate in a safe and healthy manner while protecting passengers, crew and the communities the visit.

Ships sailing in U.S. waters on international voyages that choose not to participate will be classified as "grey" on the CDC’s "Cruise Ship Colour Status" website to indicate the CDC hasn't reviewed their health and safety protocols.

And ships that opt out and sail only in U.S. waters will not be listed at all.

Seven Seas Splendor. (Regent Seven Seas)

"The health and safety of our guests, crew and communities we visit is our number one priority. We have demonstrated this commitment since our return to service in July of last year, with protocols that exceeded those required by regulatory agencies, including 100 per cent vaccination of guests and crew, universal testing of all guests prior to embarkation and routine testing of all crew," said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of NCLH in a statement on Friday.

"Furthering our commitment to health and safety, with the expiration of the CDC's Conditional Sail Order, our three brands have opted into the CDC's voluntary Program, which provides the cruise industry with a set of operating provisions to protect the health and safety of guests and crew.”

Del Rio said the adoption of the voluntary program provides guests, crew, travel partners and other stakeholders with “the assurance that our brands will continue to meet and exceed the provisions laid out by the CDC and provide unparalleled health and safety protocols not found in any other sector of the travel and leisure space."

READ MORE: CDC guidance to become optional for cruise lines

Last week, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said the CDC's new voluntary program is proof that the cruise industry has upheld an "unwavering commitment" to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

"Cruise is the only segment of travel and tourism that requires, prior to embarkation for both passengers and crew, exceedingly high levels of vaccination (approaching 100 per cent compared to only 63 per cent of the U.S. population) and 100 per cent testing of every individual (21 times the rate of the U.S. on land)," CLIA's Bari Golin-Blaugrund, vice president of strategic communications, told USA Today. 

The update comes over two weeks after the CDC heightened its warning against cruise ship travel and as the U.S., earlier this week, reported a new single-day record of 1.5 million cases of the COVID-19 virus.

On Dec. 30, the CDC raised its travel warning for cruises to the highest level, “Level 4,” as the agency investigated dozens of ships that have had COVID-19 outbreaks, largely linked to the highly-contagious Omicron variant.

Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!  Click here to follow PAX on Facebook.