All Eyes On CDC As Time Ticks on Cruise Ship No Sail Order

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The “No Sail” order issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is set to expire on Sept. 30, and as of Monday, the CDC had not issued a formal update.

Previously, the agency had extended its order between four and eight days prior to previous expiration dates in April and July.

Different this time around is multiple plans submitted to the CDC by key industry parties, including the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), a Washington D.C. based non-profit lobbying group, as well as the Healthy Sail Panel which was formed between industry rivals Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

Industry-led webinars have also walked stakeholders and travel agents through submitting their comments to the CDC, which had issued a request for information from the public. On the flip-side, anti-cruise groups had also organized a campaign in which to send the CDC their own comments.

There has also been additional pressure from local governments, including in Miami, where statements from the mayor and a protest on Monday implored the CDC to lift its cruise ship ban to help bring back jobs in the industry.

While no major U.S. cruise lines have plans to sail in October yet, multiple operators are selling November departures and have publicly stated they can have a ship ready to sail in 30 days. Those 30 days would be used to get crew back to the ship as well as conduct a few shake-down voyages with new protocols.

Sailings in November would start first from Florida, and most likely be short cruises going to cruise lines' own private islands, where operators could fully control the experience using trained crew from the ships that would have already undergone new testing protocols. 

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order last week allowing restaurants and bars to return to normal 100 percent capacity operations.

Also helping are a number of restarts in Europe and Asia that have been going smoothly with big ships, led by Genting Cruise Lines in Taiwan and MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises in the Mediterranean.

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