After the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on July 18, 2022 that its The COVID-19 program for cruise ships was to end immediatelythe Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents most cruise lines, reacted to the good news.
An important advance for cruises
The end of the CDC program and oversight is a significant milestone for cruises departing from the United States. This now means that the agency’s sometimes excessive hold on the cruise industry has come to an end and cruise lines can safely move forward with their own requirements, tailored to each individual company’s needs. cruise lines and in cooperation with the destinations visited by each company.
Following the announcement, CLIA welcomed the news, stating, “The end of the CDC program effective July 18, 2022 is a testament to the effectiveness of the industry’s comprehensive and robust protocols.”
All major cruise lines have implemented strict health and safety protocols since the operational reboot started with Celebrity benefit departure from Fort Lauderdale on June 26, 2021.
These protocols have included rigorous pre-cruise testing, vaccination requirements for guests as well as crew members, enhanced cleaning and sanitation, better air filtration, capacity limitations to allow for social distancing , and more.
“Cruising has become one of the safest forms of travel and one of the most successful industries in mitigating the spread and severity of COVID-19, resulting in few passengers or crew becoming seriously ill. or require hospitalization compared to hospital statistics for landside patients,” CLIA said.
What has been difficult for the industry to bear, however, are the clear disparities in how different parts of the travel industry have been treated when it comes to customer operations.
For example, at no time have hotels, resorts, amusement parks or sporting events been subjected to the same testing, vaccination or cleaning standards with which cruise lines have been vetted.
The most egregious example was the CDC’s COVID-19 international flight test requirement for flights entering the United States, which was completed mid-June, but pre-cruise testing continued to be required for cruise ships. At this moment, CLIA urged CDC to reassess testing for cruise passengersbut no changes were made.
Now, the end of the CDC program will allow for better comparison between different sectors of the travel industry.
“This is an important step forward for the CDC in aligning the guidelines for cruises with those it has established for other travel, hospitality and entertainment industries,” CLIA said.
Advice, not demands, will continue
This does not mean, however, that cruise lines will be entirely on their own to develop updated protocols. The CDC will continue to offer recommendations and guidelines, which CLIA and member cruise lines will carefully consider when updating their own policies.
“We look forward to reviewing the details, which we understand will be posted on the CDC’s website in the coming days,” CLIA said.
CLIA member cruise lines include all major cruise lines in the world, such as Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, P&O Cruises, Virgin Voyages and many more. more global and regional cruise operators.
Not only will cruise lines have to review their policies internally, but they will have to continue to cooperate and collaborate with port destinations. While many destinations have begun to ease travel restrictions related to COVID-19, some regions still have very strict protocols and ongoing requirements.
Cruise lines will need to fully comply with various regulations when planning itineraries, bearing in mind that these regulations and protocols will likely continue to evolve in the weeks and months to come.