CDC Issues Framework for Conditional Sailing Order for Cruise Ships

- Photo by Canva

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today issued a Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, effective November 1, 2020. This Order will provide guidance for a phased-in resumption of cruise ship passenger operations. It replaces the CDC’s ‘No Sail Order’ which will expire on Saturday, October 31, 2020, and had been in effect since March.

According to the executive summary of the CDC’s order, “a careful approach is needed to resume passenger cruise ship operations. CDC is establishing requirements to mitigate the COVID-19 risk to passengers and crew, prevent the further spread of COVID-19 from cruise ships into US communities, and protect public health and safety.” 

The announcement continues, “The initial phases will consist of testing and additional safeguards for crew members. CDC will ensure cruise ship operators have adequate health and safety protections for crew while these cruise ship operators build the laboratory capacity needed to test future passengers.” 

“Subsequent phases will include simulated voyages to test cruise ship operators’ ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk, certification for ships that meet specific requirements, and a phased return to cruise ship passenger voyages in a manner that mitigates COVID-19 risk among passengers, crew members, and U.S. communities. These phases are subject to change based on public health considerations and cruise ship operators’ demonstrated ability to mitigate COVID19 risk.”

“The phased-in approach will include: (1) establishment of laboratory testing of crew onboard cruise ships in U.S. waters; (2) 15 simulated voyages designed to test a cruise ship operators’ ability to mitigate COVID-19 on cruise ships; (3) a certification process; and (4) a return to passenger voyages in a manner that mitigates the risk of COVID-19 introduction, transmission, or spread among passengers and crew onboard ships and ashore to communities.”

As part of this initial crew testing phase the Order also covers, “(1) shoreside COVID-19 laboratory screening testing of all crew currently onboard; (2) onboard diagnostic testing capabilities for symptomatic travelers (crew and future passengers); (3) shoreside COVID-19 laboratory screening testing of all newly embarking crew; and (4) continued compliance by cruise ship operators with their complete, accurate, and acknowledged No Sail Order Response Plans.” 

This Framework for Conditional Sailing Order will remain in effect until: 

  • The expiration of the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ declaration that COVID-19 constitutes a public health emergency,
  • The CDC Director rescinds or modifies the order based on specific public health or other considerations, or
  • November 1, 2021

Prior to this announcement by the CDC, most major lines, including Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Holland America, Princess Cruises, and MSC Cruises, have suspended all sailings through December 31, 2020. 

Our Take

We are all eager for cruising to resume! This updated order from the CDC is certainly a welcome and positive step in the right direction. Essentially, cruise lines are now able to resume sailings after November 1, 2020, provided they meet the testing requirements for crew and passengers. Additionally, the cruise lines will need to continually report testing results and ensure their own previously published guidelines are followed to ensure the health and safety of all onboard. 
The bottom line is this is the first step to resuming cruises. We can’t wait for the salt air, sunset balcony cocktails, and the sound of the ocean to fill our senses and wash away the 2020 cruising blues. It’s time to set sail into 2021.

Read the CDC’s Official Order:

This is a breaking news story. We will continue to update this piece as new information is released.

Latest Update: November 3, 2020



Posted by Lazyboy

The more I read about this and look at it, the more I see it as a political countermove by the CDC that basically attempts to keep the no-sail order in place by making it very hard to, both economically and logistically, implement.

Posted by Rubymom7

Lazyboy is 100% correct! The cdc is privately owned but is being put in charge of what they think is best for everyone changing day to day...they forgot about natural immunity and think that the cruise industry is going to gain back what we were precovid is unrealistic by shunning those that can’t get the shot or choose not to...will be interesting to see what they’ll do when cthere’s a covid outbreak or positive testings on an all vaccinated cruise. 😬

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