The CDC issued a clarification of their letter to the cruise lines to Cruise Industry News this afternoon and stated that it looks at a timeline of passenger voyages by mid-July.
According to Caitlin Shockey, CDC spokesperson, over the past month, senior leadership from the CDC have met twice-weekly with representatives from cruise lines to discuss the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO). Within these meetings, participants asked questions and discussed the fastest path back to sailing without compromising safety, she said. Today, in response to the industry’s feedback, the CDC announced five key clarifications with the existing CSO framework.
Vaccinations: Ships may now bypass simulated voyages and move directly to open water sailing with passengers if a ship attests that 98 percent of its crew and 95 percent of its passengers are fully vaccinated.
60 Day Waiting Period: The CDC announced that it would review and respond to applications for simulated voyages within 5 days, down from the anticipated 60 day waiting period. This puts cruise ships closer to open water sailing sooner.
Testing: The CDC will update its testing and quarantine requirements for passengers and crew to closely align with the CDC’s guidance for fully vaccinated persons. Fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to undergo NAAT testing, they may now take a simple viral test (NAA or antigen) upon embarkation. This testing change is for the restricted revenue sailings in Phase 4 of the CSO.
Port Agreements: The CDC clarified that cruise ship operators may enter into a multi-port agreement (as opposed to a single port agreement) provided that relevant port and local health authorities are signatories to the agreement. Such multi-port agreements may be particularly suitable if one port has limited medical or housing capacity and a nearby port is able to supplement these capacities.
Quarantine Housing: The CDC clarified guidance on ventilation systems and the ability for local passengers to quarantine at home if they are within driving distance.
The CDC stated that it remains committed to the resumption of passenger operations in the United States following the requirements in the CSO by mid-summer, which aligns with the goals announced by many major cruise lines and travelers.
The CDC said it looks forward to continued engagement with the industry and urges cruise lines to submit Phase 2A port agreements as soon as possible to maintain the timeline of passenger voyages by mid-July.