CDC issues final guidance to restart US cruises

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued its final two stages of guidance on the steps required to restart cruises from US ports.

The CDC has mapped out stricter restrictions than are being placed on onshore businesses. However, there is now at least a clear path for cruises to resume from US ports, starting possibly as soon as July.

“Cruise ship operators now have all the necessary requirements and recommendations they need to start simulated voyages before resuming restricted passenger voyages,” the CDC said, adding that “in the final phase of the CSO (Conditional Sailing Order issued in October 2020), cruise ship operators with an approved Covid-19 Conditional Sailing Certificate application will be permitted to sail with passengers following the requirements of the CSO. CDC does not anticipate releasing any additional documents.”

The CDC is permitting cruise lines to skip its simulated voyage requirements if they have 98% of their crew fully vaccinated and limit passengers to 95% verified as fully vaccinated.

The CDC provides a long list of rules impacting nearly every aspect of the cruise, and retains the right to conduct inspections of the cruise ship without prior notice.

“CDC acknowledges that it is not possible for cruising to be a zero-risk activity for the spread of Covid-19. While cruising will always pose some risk of Covid-19 transmission, CDC is committed to ensuring that cruise ship passenger operations are conducted in a way that protects crew members, passengers, and port personnel, particularly with emerging Covid-19 variants of concern.”

The latest steps are in addition to the prior restrictions the CDC had announced, which limited cruises to seven days or less and restricted crew movements between ships.