NATIONWIDE — The CDC says it will not give up on its phased approach to allowing cruise lines to sail again, even though the head of Royal Caribbean and the leading cruise industry group is calling the plan “unworkable.” 

What You Need To Know

Royal Caribbean cruise lines, and the Cruise Lines International Association, want the CDC to end its conditional sail order and allow sailing by the beginning of July.

The CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, Richard Fain, says the agency’s approach is out of date. 

Just last week, industry leaders said since March of 2020, they have experienced a 79% loss in operating revenue and a 43% loss in workforce reduction. 

Fain said the cruise industry has been in phase one of the CDC’s four-phased conditional sail order for months — going on to say they have not even been told what is in phase two.   

The CDC told Spectrum News in a statement that the next phase of the CSO was currently under interagency review.

Fain said the cruise lines have successfully carried more than 350,000 guests since last summer with very few positive COVID-19 cases, to and from non-U.S. ports.

He said it is time to move on from the conditional sail order, pointing to recent vaccine developments. 

The company is even working around the federal guidelines, starting sailings from Nassau, the Bahamas, since the U.S. ports are out of the question right now. Which, according to the CDC, Royal Caribbean can do. 

"(The) CDC does not exercise jurisdiction over ships operating outside of U.S. waters that do not intend to return to U.S. waters," Jason McDonald, a CDC public affairs specialist, explained to Spectrum News.

McDonald said while passenger operations within the U.S. are currently suspended, any cruise line planning to resume passenger travel must follow the agency’s conditional sail order requirements.

The order applies to any cruise ship that either operates in or plans to operate in U.S. waters.

“Returning to passenger cruising is a phased approach to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19,” said McDonald as he explained the purpose of the order.

He stated that the order, which was issued by the CDC on October 30, 2020, remains in effect until November 1, 2021.


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