Caption: Cruise holidays can set sail from July in major boost for tourists post-pandemic
US health officials have said that cruise holidays can go ahead from mid-July – but only fully-vaccinated tourists will be allowed to set sail.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said its working with cruise operators to put plans in place that will allow the industry to get back up and running again in time for the second half of 2021. The re-start, however, will only be possible if 98% of crew members and 95% of passengers are fully-vaccinated against Covid-19.
The ‘gradual’ return of cruise holidays, the CDC says, will happen on a limited capacity basis on cruise liners.
In making the announcement on Thursday, the federal health body said its officials have been meeting twice-weekly with cruise operator chiefs to discuss how they can work together to get ships sailing in and out of US ports once again.
A Disney cruise ship moored up the Eastern Dock of the Port of Dover, UK, amid the Covid pandemic (Picture: Getty)
Following a string of positive talks, the CDC said: ‘This puts cruise ships closer to open water sailing sooner’.
‘(The) CDC looks forward to continued engagement with the industry and urges cruise lines to submit Phase 2A port agreements as soon as possible to maintain the timeline of passenger voyages by mid-July’, the CDC statement added.
Officials also said the CDC has agreed to ease some requirements on testing for prospective passengers and has shortened the process through which cruise operators were required to apply for simulated sailings, which are required before passenger sailings under current CDC restrictions. It’s hoped that this will speed up the process of re-starting cruise holidays in the summer.
The move is the most significant yet from health or government officials in the US with regards to tourism in a post-pandemic world.
If the plans go ahead as anticipated, the US could be the first nation in the world to welcome holiday-makers back onto its cruise ships since the tourism industry ground to a halt in March 2020.
The CDC issued a ‘no-sail order’ on the cruise industry in March last year after numerous Covid outbreaks onboard cruise liners caused chaos, and led to people being stuck at sea.
Since then, the cruise industry has been losing hundreds of millions of dollars per month as its ships sit idle at sea, having been barred from sailing by the CDC.
The Carnival Vista cruise ship is seen at sea during a full Pink Super moon in Miami Beach, on April 26, 2021 (Picture: AFP/Getty)
Swimmers in the water with the cruise ships Queen Elizabeth, left, and Arcadia anchored in Poole Bay, UK, while cruise companies temporarily suspend their operations due to the coronavirus pandemic (Picture: PA)
Earlier this week cruise operator Royal Caribbean reported a $1.13billion loss in the first quarter of 2021.
But in recent months the federal restrictions on cruise liners have been criticized in places like Florida, where cruise travel supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and plays a major part in the local economy.
Earlier this month, Florida sued the government to demand they allow cruising from US ports to resume immediately on the back off America’s successful vaccine roll out scheme.
So far more than 200million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in America, putting the nation on track to read herd immunity by July.
The CDC’s announcement on plans to resume cruise travel is largely in line with that already worked towards by many major cruise companies, reports the New York Post.
On a conference call with analysts, Royal Caribbean CEO, Richard Fain, called the CDC’s commitment to restarting cruise operations ‘a significant improvement in the extent and the quality of our dialogue’ with the federal body.
‘We believe that this communication really helps us to see a clear and achievable pathway forward to a safe and healthy cruising in the near future’, he said, adding that there are still some things that need to be ironed out before any plans can be finalized.
The cruise industry looks set to get back up and running again in the summer (Picture: Getty)
Mr Fain added: ‘I would also emphasize that the restart does not mean that we will immediately go into full operation. We are hopeful about restarting.
‘That restart will be gradual and deliberate. It could be possible to restart cruising by mid-July.’
Reacting to the news, earlier today, Disney Cruise Line sent out an email to subscribes announcing that bookings are now open for their cruise holidays.
Dates are available for booking from July 15.
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