Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH), the cruise shipowner of NCL-Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania and RSSC-Regent Seven Seas Cruises, sent a letter to the USA's CDC agency (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) outlining its plan to resume passenger shipping operations from homeports in the USA in July 2021.
It includes the multi-layered SailSAFE Health and Safety Program of NCLH developed in conjunction with globally recognized experts, such as the HSP-Healthy Sail Panel.
The plan is consistent with the updated guidance of the CDC that international travel is safe for fully vaccinated individuals and that COVID vaccination efforts will be critical in the safe resumption of cruise travel.
By requiring full and complete vaccinations of passengers and crew, NCLH said it believed it shared in the spirit and exceeded the intent of the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order to advance mutual public health goals and protect passengers, crew, and the communities visited. Norwegian added it trusted and was optimistic the CDC would agree that mandatory vaccination requirements eliminated the need for the CSO and therefore requested for the lifting of the order for NCLH vessels, allowing them to sail from U.S. ports starting July 4.
The Company looked forward to its "continued partnership with the CDC in recommencing operations with 100% vaccinated guests and crew aboard and reduced capacity initially as part of a phased-in launch."
While the risk of COVID cannot be entirely eliminated, over the past 8 months the cruise industry has carried ~400,000 passengers in 10+ major cruise markets outside the U.S. with only a few isolated cases that were effectively contained, and mitigated without interrupting the sailings of others. This was done before the availability of widespread vaccinations.
NCLH added it was committed to protecting the health and safety of its passengers, crew and communities visited. Its SailSAFE health and safety program, with new and enhanced protocols, creates multiple layers of protection against the virus. The measures, including vaccination requirements, will be refined as technology, science, and the knowledge of COVID-19 evolves.