CDC says “SAIL”, yet some lines suspend through end of year

The CDC  has replaced the no cruising order with a series of requirements that cruise lines must undertake in order to certify that they can prevent the spread of Covid-19 on their ships. This framework includes a requirement that ships conduct test sailings prior to restarting commercial operations and present to the CDC a report showing that those sailings were successful in mitigating the risk of spread to the crew, passengers, and communities found along with a voyages itinerary. Completion and compliance determine whether that ship will receive a Conditional Sailing Certificate.

Cruise executives said last month that preparing a ship to sail again would take anywhere from 30 to 60 days, with the additional necessary protocols contributing to the longer duration. The simulated sailings will be the biggest barrier to any quick resumption of commercial cruising. Cruise lines will need to activate and bring a crew from various countries, quarantine and test them, provision and prepare ships for service and deploy them to U.S. ports, all before the simulated testings. This workflow could be duplicated multiple times if the ship fails to meet CDC approval.

This summer, the CDC asked the public to weigh in on how cruising should resume during the Covid-19 pandemic, and discovered a continued demand for sailing as long as new safety protocols were enforced. A large majority of respondents were in favor of requiring cruise lines to test passengers and crew prior to embarkation (74%), cruise lines reducing passenger and crew loads (90%), and the wearing of face masks by passengers (85%). 25% of respondents did not support a return to cruising until a vaccine is widely available and because of the current state of the pandemic.

Cruise lines are now formulating plans and next steps. Norwegian Cruise Line recently announced a decision to cancel cruises through Dec. 31 for their three major brands, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas. Guests with an active reservation on a suspended cruise in December 2020. In the line’s most recent release, the company noted that it will “continue to work in tandem with global government and public health authorities and its Healthy Sail expert panels to take all necessary measures to protect its guests, crew and the communities visited.” AAA members should speak with AAA Travel Advisors. In addition to Future Cruise Credits and refunding options, members will additionally, a 10% off coupon will be automatically added to the guest’s account which is valid for one year from the date of issue, and can be used for any Norwegian Cruise Line voyage embarking through 2022 and is combinable with any Future Cruise Credits and all future promotions at time of booking. Your AAA Travel advisor can help you understand the options available to you. To speak with your AAA Travel advisor, please call 1-800-222-7448.