Cruise industry representatives filed competing petitions with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control over the upcoming expiration of the agency’s “no sail order,” which bans large cruise ships from sailing.
To remind, the previous week US senators Rick Scott and Senator Marco Rubio introduced the Set Sail Safely Act in an effort to restart cruises. The bill will implement a Maritime Task Force, in coordination with a Private Sector Advisory Committee, to address the health, safety, security, and logistical changes needed to allow for cruise lines and ports to resume operations.
Currently, cruise lines are under a No Sail Order until September 30, 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Among the representatives are Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, that reported on Monday they submitted a report to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) detailing health and safety protocols.
Both cruise operators presented 74 steps, including enhanced sanitation practices, controlling shore excursions and better protection for crew members, to protect guests once cruises resume. Their recommendations include rigorous screening and testing before boarding and plans to address positive infection on board. Although the plan’s implementation could be costly, Norwegian CEO Frank Del Rio reported to Reuters that the expense was not important.
Moreover, the petition’s health-related proposals include a requirement that all prospective passengers and crew should have COVID-19 antibodies.
This qualification in the US exists only for those who have previously had COVID-19 or (for a very small number) are participating in a COVID-19 vaccine trial. The timeline for widespread availability of an approved vaccine – which would increase the number of individuals with antibodies dramatically – is not yet clear.