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Cruisers rejoiced last week when the CDC finally lifted its no sail order. In doing so, the federal agency imposed a new phased approach to the resumption of cruising. This new Conditional Sail Order provides a framework to allow cruise lines to begin sailing again. In this major cruise news update we breakdown the new Conditional Sail Order and discuss what this really means for the future of cruising in the U.S. in our latest video.

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In the first phase, cruise operators must demonstrate the ability to protect crew. This entails conducting COVID-19 testing of all onboard crew, as well as those who plan to embark a ship. Systems must be in place to administer weekly tests to all crew moving forward. Once this has been satisfied, the CDC will require all cruise ships in U.S. waters to undergo simulated voyages. This is a major cruise update!

These voyages will include volunteer passengers with no known medical conditions. During these simulated voyages, the cruise operators must conduct a number of safety drills, as well as routine cruise activities, such as meal service, private shore excursions, and entertainment. All guests will be tested for COVID-19 at embarkation and disembarkation of these cruises. There must also be “minimum guidelines” in place for other health and safety protocols, including face coverings, physical distancing, and hand hygiene.

Based on the results and feedback from the simulated voyages, cruise lines can then apply to the CDC to receive a conditional sailing certificate. Only once this certificate has been approved by the federal agency will the ship be allowed to enter service. Even upon entering service, the cruise operators will need to report on safety measures, including ship capacity and outbreaks onboard ships. Further, cruise operators must be transparent with guests. If a certain COVID threshold is hit during a cruise, the voyage must be ended immediately and the ship returned to its homeport.

While we are happy to see the CDC has put together this framework for a return to cruising, we admit that it is more involved than we ever imagined. This phased approach must be completed for each ship, meaning it could take even longer than we expected to get a cruise line’s fleet up and running.

As of this past week, all the major cruise lines have agreed to extend the voluntary suspension of cruising through December 31st. It is assumed the cruise lines will need this time and resources to begin completing these requirements. Given the restrictions, we expect that only a handful of ships, with short itineraries, will begin sailing in early 2021.

Read All About What the New CDC Conditional Sail Order Really Means for Cruising Back on the Blog:

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