NEW YORK - U.S. cruise ships could resume sailing this summer after being suspended for more than a year during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
Passengers will once again be able to cruise by mid-July if operators can show that 98% of crew members and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated, among other guidelines, according to a letter sent to cruise industry insiders and shared with USA Today.
"We acknowledge that cruising will never be a zero-risk activity and that the goal of the CSO’s phased approach is to resume passenger operations in a way that mitigates the risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard cruise ships and across port communities," Aimee Treffiletti, head of the Maritime Unit for CDC’s COVID-19 response for its Global Mitigation Task Force for COVID-19, allegedly said.
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According to the guidance, the CDC will update its quarantine and testing requirements for crew members and passengers. Fully vaccinated travelers will now be able to take a rapid test instead of a PCR, per the CDC. The agency also elaborated upon quarantine guidance for passengers who may be exposed to COVID-19, allowing local passengers to drive home or quarantine in a hotel, if they traveled by air.
Cruise ship operators will also be allowed to enter into agreements with multiple ports instead of just one single port, as long as all local health authorities and all ports sign off.
The CDC released the second phase of its Framework for Conditional Sail Order on April 2 with new guidance on how cruise ship operators could resume business safely. A No Sail Order was issued over a year ago on March 14, 2020.
The Cruise Lines International Association, a trade group representing the industry, pushed for the cruise industry to resume operations from U.S. ports again in July after the industry suffered extreme revenue losses. Carnival Cruise Line said earlier this month it was considering moving its fleet of ships out of American ports if it was unable to sail from the U.S. once again.