LOS ANGELES - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a framework for phased resumption of cruise ship operations following the CDC’s no sail order, which is expected to expire on Oct. 31.
“Considering the continued spread of COVID-19 worldwide and increased risk off COVID-19 on cruise ships, a careful approach is needed to safely resume cruise ship passenger operations,” the health agency wrote in the guidelines, which were published Friday.
The CDC said it knows of 3,689 reported coronavirus cases and 41 deaths linked to cruises in U.S. waters between March and September. The agency said that is likely an undercount.
The framework will remain in effect until:
- The expiration of the secretary of Health and Human Services’ declaration that COVID-19 constitutes a public health emergency
- The CDC Director rescinds or modifies the order based on specific public health or other considerations, or
- Nov. 1, 2021
The new framework consists of various phases, and the CDC said it is subject to change based on public health considerations and cruise ship operators’ ability to effectively demonstrate measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus aboard ships.
“This order additionally announces requirements for the initial phases relating to crew testing,” the CDC wrote.
Phases will include:
- Simulated voyages to test cruise ship operators’ ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk
- Testing and additional safeguards for crew members
- Adequate health and safety protections made available for crew members
- Cruise ship operators will be required to build laboratory capacity needed to test future passengers
- Certification for ships that meet specific COVID-19 related health and safety requirements
- Phased return to cruise ship passenger voyages that meet coronavirus measures to help curb the spread of the virus
The CDC order comes amid a marked rise in coronavirus infections in the U.S. and around the globe. Several countries, including France and Germany, have implemented new lockdowns as cases surge within their borders.
Cruise ships Queen Victoria and Aurora anchored in the English Channel off the Dorset coast as the industry remains at a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic on October 22, 2020 in Weymouth, United Kingdom. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
The United States added another 500,000 COVID-19 cases in just one week, a grim new record. In that span, the U.S. averaged roughly 71,000 new cases per day, the New York Times reported.
As of Oct. 30, the U.S. has the most coronavirus cases in the world with nearly 9 million and the most deaths at more than 228,000. Globally, more than 45 million have been infected and nearly 1.2 million have died, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
Carnival Cruise Line said Oct. 12 it was canceling its remaining cruises scheduled for November out of two Florida ports, as well as five cruises from Australia at the beginning of next year.
Cruises are still planned for December out of the two Florida ports.
“Carnival continues to work on protocols and procedures that would allow for the resumption of cruise operations, with a gradual, phased-in approach, designating Miami and Port Canaveral as the first two homeports for embarkations," the cruise line said in a statement.
Carnival’s rival, Norwegian Cruise Line, said Oct. 1 that it hasn’t canceled any scheduled cruises and remains optimistic it can resume U.S. operations soon. Norwegian is listing November cruises from Florida to the Bahamas and New York to Bermuda on its website.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.