The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has joined the growing list of trade groups calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to revoke its Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) and resume travel from U.S. ports by July.
CLIA officials stated that the current CSO is outdated due to the development of COVID-19 testing and vaccination in the United States. The early July date is consistent with President Joe Biden’s prediction that the situation in the country will return to normal.
The CSO was issued in October, but the CDC has not issued further guidance to support the recovery of U.S. cruises. According to the industry association, the lack of action will ban all cruises in the industry’s largest market, with cruises being one of the few sectors of the U.S. economy that remains unaffected.
The past eight months have seen the resurgence of cruising in Europe, Asia and the Pacific – to date nearly 400,000 passengers have sailed in more than 10 major cruise markets, said Kelly Craighead, CEO of CLIA. These flights were successfully conducted using state-of-the-art protocols that effectively contained the spread of COWID-19. Other Mediterranean and Caribbean crossings are planned for spring and summer.
Data from industry associations show that the low percentage of coronavirus cases reported on board cruise ships is significantly lower than that observed on land or in other modes of transport.
This is a testament to the industry’s half-century of unparalleled experience in coordinating guest and crew movements, effectively managing complex loading and unloading operations and excursions, and designing vessels that are more technologically and operationally efficient than any other mode of transportation, Craighead said.
The cruise industry provides about 450,000 jobs in the U.S. and was worth more than $55.5 billion annually before the pandemic. According to CLIA officials, the resumption of shipping would give the U.S. economy a much-needed boost.
The outdated issue of the CSO, published nearly five months ago, does not reflect the industry’s proven progress and success in other parts of the world, the advent of vaccines, or the unfair treatment of cruises in other respects, Craighead said. Cruise lines should be treated in the same way as other travel, tourism, hotel and entertainment companies.
While some cruise lines have advertised different trips for vaccinated passengers, CLIA currently has no vaccination policy, Craighead said. The organization and its members are exploring a viable approach to how vaccination, once widely available, can be considered as part of robust protocols.
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