Enlarge /. YOKOHAMA, JAPAN – FEBRUARY 10: A member of the media wears a face mask while passing the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
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The cruise industry is quite salty on the latest federal guidelines for safe pandemic sailing, calling them "burdensome" and "impractical." "
The new guidelines are an updated phase of the Conditional Sailing Regulations (CSO) framework published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on April 2nd. While vaccinations are not required for all staff and cruise lines, shots are recommended and additional health measures are required to try to boost COVID-19 outbreaks on board – which are in densely packed, highly difficult-to-manage spots social vessels are difficult.
Under the guidelines, cruise lines must, among other things, increase the number of COVID-19 cases reported on board and increase reporting from weekly to daily. It also requires cruise ships to run new routine tests for crew members. In addition, the guidelines mandate that cruise lines have agreements with port authorities and local health authorities to ensure that in the event of an outbreak there is a need for coordination and infrastructure to safely quarantine, isolate and treat passengers and crew on land .
As soon as these requirements are met, cruise lines can conduct mock cruises with voluntary passengers and, if all goes well, apply for a “Conditional Sailing Certificate”.
In a statement released on Monday, well-known industry trading group Cruise Lines International Association released a statement calling the new guidelines "overly burdensome, largely impractical".
The CLIA claims the health guidelines "deprive US workers of participating in the economic recovery" and provide "no identifiable path forward or time frame for resumption" of cruises originating in the country. The group ended its statement by asking the Biden administration "to review the body of evidence supporting the CSO's suspension this month to allow for a controlled resumption of duty planning this summer."
Likewise, Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, told the Washington Post in an interview Monday that the company was "disappointed" with the CDC's latest guidance. "We thought it was a step backwards, quite frankly," said Del Rio.
The cruise manager sent a letter to CDC director Rochelle Walensky on Monday announcing the cruise company's own plan to safely resume the cruise, which includes mandatory vaccination for all passengers and staff. Del Rio objected to the agency's additional requirements, regardless of vaccination status.
It is unlikely that the CDC will be postponed on this issue. In its announcement of the guidelines, the agency noted that “It is safe and responsible to drive safely and responsibly during a global pandemic. While cruises always pose some risk to the transmission of COVID-19, following the stages of the CSO will ensure that cruise ship passenger operations are conducted in a way that protects crew members, passengers and port staff, especially if COVID-19 emerges -Variants . ”
In the early days of the pandemic, cruise lines were among the first known victims of COVID-19 and witnessed devastating outbreaks that gained international attention. Among the most memorable was the Diamond Princess, who was quarantined in a Japanese port for weeks in February 2020. At one point in time, the luxury liner had the largest group of COVID-19 outside of China, where the pandemic began. A total of 712 of the ship's 3,711 passengers and crew were infected, 37 required intensive treatment and nine died.