CDC Extends Cruising Guidelines, Paves Way for Voluntary Measures
By Dave Sebastian
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is extending its
oversight of the cruise industry through early next year due to the
Delta variant while paving the way for voluntary measures to
control the spread of Covid-19 aboard cruise ships.
The CDC on Monday said it is prolonging its conditional-sail
order to Jan. 15, 2022, for vessels operating in U.S. waters with
the capacity to carry at least 250 people and with itineraries
involving an overnight or 24-hour stay onboard. The framework has
been in effect since late October 2020 and was set to expire in
After the extension's expiration, the CDC said it will
transition to a voluntary program that includes measures to detect
and mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Covid-19 cases have been reported on cruise ships since they
restarted U.S. sailings in late June, even on those with a mostly
vaccinated population. In August, Carnival Cruise Line reported the
death of a passenger due to Covid-19. The passenger was among 27
people who tested positive for Covid-19 on the ship, which departed
The cruise industry restarted sailings after more than a year of
hiatus while acknowledging that their trips aren't going to be
Covid-free, and so is the CDC's understanding, said Aimee
Treffiletti, the CDC's maritime unit lead and a captain in the U.S.
Public Health Service. She said most of the onboard cases reported
to the CDC have been mostly asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic.
"Even though we have seen Covid on ships, it hasn't been to a
level that has overwhelmed the medical resources onboard," Capt.
Treffiletti said in an interview.
The CDC on Monday didn't provide the number of Covid-19 cases or
deaths reported onboard cruis ships.
The extension of the cruising guidelines involves some
modifications to those currently in place and is based on feedback
from the cruise industry. For example, the CDC is eliminating the
requirement for cruise companies to include any CDC travel
advisory, warning or recommendation related to cruise travel in
marketing materials. That change was a direct request from the
cruise industry, Capt. Treffiletti said.
"We've developed a really good working relationship with the
cruise industry," she said. "It's a very collaborative relationship
at this point."
The CDC categorizes cruise-ship travel under level 3 of its
travel health notice, meaning that the activity involves a "high
level of Covid-19."
The cruising restart hadn't been all that smooth. The industry
pushed back against the CDC's earlier guidelines, with the agency
later detailing some of its expectations, including the path to
obtaining the green light to resume sailings.
The update also provides more options for cruises to resume with
fewer than 95% of passengers fully vaccinated, the CDC said. Under
the current framework, cruise lines are required to conduct mock
voyages before they proceed to revenue-generating sailings. If they
want to skip the simulated voyages, they would need to attest that
95% of people have been fully vaccinated.
The extended guidelines also provide procedures in place of mock
voyages for ships operating with fewer than 95% of people fully
vaccinated. They also provide an option for ship operators
repositioning to U.S. waters that intend to operate with less than
a 95% vaccination rate to fulfill modified simulated-voyage
requirements instead of the full mock sailing, the CDC said.
Write to Dave Sebastian at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 25, 2021 15:27 ET (19:27 GMT)
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