For the travelers in the US who wish to embark on a cruise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced a phased approach to the resumption of passenger operations.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it implemented a “no sail order” period for cruise ships with the capacity to carry at least 250 passengers in waters subject to US jurisdiction. Under the new phases, ships will not be able to welcome passengers back until they have received their "COVID-19 Conditional Sailing Certificate."
The establishment of laboratory testing onboard cruise ships in US waters will see crew members being tested for COVID-19 each week and they will be provided with personal protection equipment. Vessels will undergo simulated voyages to test cruise ships' ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk, with volunteers playing the role of passengers. Once ships have met certain requirements, they will be permitted to begin operations with real passengers.
Other conditions include that travelers will have to undergo testing when arriving and departing the ship. Written agreements with ports will need to be arranged to approve housing for passengers or crew who need to quarantine or passengers who need to be evacuated to hospital.
The "no-sail order" was implemented because there were 2973 COVID-19 or COVID-like illness cases on ships between March 1 through July 10, in addition to 34 deaths. These cases were part of 99 outbreaks on 123 different cruise ships.
For further information, the CDC's Framework for Conditional Sailing Order for Cruise Ships can be found here.
This article was originally published on July 21, 2020 and updated on November 2, 2020.
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