Cruise travel is at a standstill during this period of uncertainty with the Covid-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has sent out a request for information related to cruise ship embarkation and planning and infrastructure. This measure is an effort by the CDC to develop a strategy to prevent, mitigate, and respond to the spread of the virus on cruise ships.
The No Sail Order extension by the CDC dated July 16 is the most recent one since it was extended on April 15. This extension will hold through September 30, 2020, and it suspends passenger operations on cruise ships in waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction. Since placing the No Sail Order CDC has worked with cruise lines to bring crew members back home, requiring cruise lines to sign and submit an attestation.
The 28-question list compiled by the CDC is open to persons and organizations to submit their comments. The questions have been divided into those about planning and infrastructure and the resumption of passenger operations.
Cruise ships are typically more crowded than urban settings, and passengers and crew end up sharing these small or enclosed spaces. Even with few people on board, an outbreak of Covid-19 onboard would spread quickly, especially with a lack of proper prevention and containment measures in place. The CDC intends to come up with guidelines and recommendations to protect passengers, crew, and people at the ports and on land from infection.
Covid-19 and Planning and Infrastructure
Some of the questions asked here are: what practices should cruise ship operators implement to prevent transmission of the virus when operating with passengers, how operators can ensure that internal health programs are involved in all decision-making processes involving passenger and crew operations say in outbreak prevention and management response, and how operators should address specific country travel restrictions.
Covid-19 and Resumption of Passenger Operations
The questions posed here are targeted at creating the most effective strategies to prevent the introduction of the virus onto ships once passengers resume travels. A few of the questions ask who should be allowed or denied boarding, methods by operators to screen exposures and detect the illness, and how they can prevent the spread of the virus to land-based communities in case of an outbreak.
The questions are both broad and specific and try to cover all the bases to provide enough input for future public health guidance and preventative measures for cruise travel. The deadline for submission of written responses is on September 21, 2020. The comments will then be published in the Federal Register and will be part of the public record.
The CDC is in support of the Cruise Lines International Association’s decision on June 19 to extend voluntarily the suspension of cruise ship travel operations for passengers until September 15. The CLIA had focused more on working with the CDC to bring crew members who were still aboard ships within U.S. jurisdiction back home in good health. However, their most recent decision shows a great possibility of the resumption of cruise travel for passengers.
Written by contributor Victor Kanake. Source: Travel Weekly