CDC: ex-USA cruises could restart in mid-July

   April 29, 2021 ,   Cruise Industry

Cruising could restart in midsummer in the USA, the CDC agency (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) said late Wednesday, April 28, in a letter to the cruise industry.

"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." 

While the CDC outlined a potential restart date for cruises departing from United States' ports this summer, that does not mean that the restrictions on sailings are lifted. The CDC offered clarifications to its guidance based on cruise industry feedback and still expects lines to meet its requirements before passenger operations can resume.

Based on cruise industry feedback, the CDC landed on 5 clarifications to its additional guidance issued on April 2 to allow a resumption of cruising:

  1. Cruise ships can bypass the required simulated test sailings carrying volunteers and jump to voyages with paying passengers in case 98% of crew members and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
  2. CDC will review and respond to applications from lines for simulated cruises within 5 days, a review previously expected to take sixty days.
  3. CDC will update testing and quarantine requirements for guests and crew members on voyages with paying passengers to align with the Centers' guidance for fully vaccinated people. For example, instead of taking a PCR lab test prior to boarding, vaccinated travelers can take a rapid antigen test upon embarkation. 
  4. CDC clarified that cruise operators may enter into a "multi-port agreement" rather than a single port agreement as long as all local and port authorities sign the agreement. 
  5. The CDC clarified guidance on quarantine guidelines for guests who may be exposed to or contract COVID-19. Local passengers may, for example, be able to drive home and vacationers who have traveled by air to cruise may quarantine in a hotel.