Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the cruise industry in the United States has largely lay in the hands of the CDC. Even though cruise lines and travelers have been eager to sail again, the CDC has constantly renewed a No Sail Order. This has been preventing any cruise lines of a notable size from getting back into business in America. While it was expected that November would be more of the same, the CDC shocked everyone by announcing a new Conditional Sailing Order. This order will be replacing the previous No Sail Order. Here are the details that you need to know about it.
What is it?
While it was quite clear what the No Sail Order was, the Conditional Sailing Order is likely going to be a bit more confusing. But it is, in a nutshell, a way for the CDC to work with cruise lines to get the cruise industry up and running again in the safest way possible. It does not mean that every cruise line in the United States can immediately start sailing again. It does mean that there is hope for this to happen in the near future, though.
What are the conditions?
Because it is a Conditional Sailing Order, there are naturally some conditions that need to be fulfilled for cruise lines to be deemed eligible to sail by the CDC. A cruise line must essentially pass a series of stages to sail. The first step is thorough coronavirus testing of all crew members on a ship. The second step is a number of “simulated voyages” that will show the CDC how the cruise line plans to keep their passengers safe. If this step is passed, a third step occurs where the cruise line is given a certification to sail again.
Testing crew members makes total sense, but what exactly are simulated voyages? These aren’t simulated in the sense that they aren’t real, as they are going to be actual voyages. But they won’t be normal itineraries. These will be voyages that are solely done to see whether the cruise line is meeting the CDC requirements in a variety of categories. Specifically, the CDC will be monitoring evacuation procedures, onboard dining and entertainment, quarantine procedures, social distancing rules, and more. Because the CDC will need to approve a cruise line’s coronavirus safety, this means that the only companies that will be allowed to sail will be the ones that are the safest.
While this may not be the simple green light that some companies were hoping for, it is still a major step forward for cruises in the U.S. The timeline remains murky, but we’re hoping to see cruises return sooner rather than later.