Signs are, we are getting closer to a cruise restart. On Thursday, the CDC made some huge updates and a possibility for cruises to restart in July. A letter was sent to the cruise lines giving new guidelines for a restart of operations from US ports.
The biggest and probably the most talked about part of this is surrounding vaccinations.
According the Royal Caribbean Blog, CEO of Royal Caribbean Michael Bayley, there would be two pathways. One for ships who the passengers and crew meet the vaccination threshold and can resume operations and those ships that will go the route of the test cruises. Sounds to me like they want to give choices to those who have not received or choose not to receive the vaccine.
One of the changes that makes the test cruise more of an option is the application timeline. Before, the application to the CDC to operate a test sailing had a 60 day turnaround but that has been shortened to 5 days. This could give flexibility to the cruise lines to operate some ships with fully vaccinated passengers and cruise as well as operate some test cruises.
Another one of the changes was surrounding agreements with ports. In the early April update, the CDC was requiring cruise lines make individual agreements with each port they visit. But with this update, they can group several ports together which I would imagine will be a much easier process.
I believe this is all due to the pressure put on to the CDC by cruise lines, passengers and the law suits by Florida and Alaska. The CDC finally admitted, “that cruising will never be a zero-risk activity".
It's important to keep in mind this is a huge step forward but not a guarantee for a July return. Also, this is US operations, Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and NCL will be operating cruises from Bermuda, St. Maarten, Nassau Bahamas and more.
We will watch and see but this is great news and I believe we are headed back to the lido deck very soon.
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