Dr Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), has said that cruise ship travel exacerbates the global spread of Covid-19 and he has signed an extension of a No Sail Order for cruise ships through to the end of October.
Most US cruise operations early last month signed a similar self-imposed timetable.
The move has been fully supported by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), but some CLIA members have already resumed operations in Europe and Asia.
The CDC said that Covid-19 continued to spread rapidly around the world, with no approved treatment or vaccine. At the point of the second modification order and extension of the No Sail Order in July, there were more than 13m confirmed cases, while by now there were more than 33m cases (cumulative total) with more than 1m deaths worldwide. The CDC said that, even in countries that had managed to slow the rate of transmission, the CDC believed that the risks for Covid-19 resurgence remained.
The CDC said that it supported an earlier decision by CLIA to voluntarily suspend cruises involving US ports until October 31st but, because not all cruise ship operators were members of CLIA or had made similar commitments, the CDC director signed this order so as to ensure that passenger operations did not resume prematurely. The order specifically pertains to all commercial, non-cargo, passenger vessels with the capacity to carry more than 250 passengers and crew with an overnight itinerary.
Only 31 out of the 108 ships that were in US waters at the start of the No Sail Order extension in April remain in US waters today. The CDC has allowed cruise ship operators to disembark and repatriate crew members from cruise ships if they follow strict travel guidelines.
In recent months the CDC has conducted implementation checks on the 11 cruise ships operating in US jurisdiction to review compliance with No Sail Orders. The CDC found that operators were adhering to the requirements.