CDC Will Allow Cruise Ships in US Waters This Summer — But There’s a Catch

Smiling woman enjoying a day on a cruise ship and looking at view.
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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has delivered some good news for travelers, as cruise ships have been given the green light to resume operations so long as the majority of those on board are vaccinated against COVID-19, according to CBS.

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In a letter sent to cruise companies on Wednesday and obtained by CBS, the CDC stated that cruise ships can set sail in U.S. waters by mid-summer so long as 95% of customers and 98% of the crew are vaccinated.

Earlier this month, CEOs of Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean made their case to the White House’s COVID response team and the CDC to replace the government’s phased-in approach to sailings from U.S. ports with a plan that allows sailings to resume this summer, sources in the room told CNBC.

This decision follows Alaska joining a lawsuit brought by Florida against the CDC challenging the CDC’s shutdown of the cruise industry. “Through this lawsuit, Alaska seeks to protect its citizens and its interests by forcing the CDC to act within the limited authority Congress granted it,” said Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor in a statement on the the state website. “CDC simply does not have the authority to arbitrarily shut down an entire industry,” he said.

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CBS reported that major cruise lines halted travel from the U.S. in March of last year when the CDC issued a “no-sail” order that continues to block passenger cruise ships from leaving domestic ports. This suspension of operations has cost the cruise industry billions. Royal Caribbean Cruises reported a net loss of $1.1 billion in the first quarter, reports CBS. Richard Fain, CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, believes the company’s cruise ships could set sailed by mid-July, which is about the midpoint of Alaska’s May-September cruise season, he said in an earnings call.

Cruise ships are often ideal locations for outbreaks of infectious diseases because of their closed environment and close contact with travelers from all over the world. Last year, More than 800 cases of COVID-19 cases occurred during outbreaks on three cruise ship voyages. Ten 10 deaths had been associated with cruise ships as of March 27, 2020, stated the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.

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