After a new announcement from the CDC, US cruising could resume around mid-July. The new guidelines set by the CDC gives cruiselines two options to resume sailing.
First: If a cruise ship has 98% of its crew and 95% of its passengers vaccinated, they can skip trial sailings and begin preparing for commercial cruises to launch this summer.
Second: If a cruise line doesn’t want to require passengers and crew to be vaccinated, they will then have to partake in “trial cruises”. These will last from two to seven days and will give the cruise operators a chance to test out their own series of COVID-19 protocols.
The ships must have at least 10% passenger capacity (which will be occupied by volunteer passengers who give written consent to have their health monitored during the cruise and have numerous COVID tests performed.) According to the AP, all trial passengers must be told by the cuise lines that they’re partking in untested safety protocols, and will be required to wear masks and socially distance. The cruise lines will even be trialing guided excursions at ports of call, however, no passengers will be allowed to exit the ship alone.
Once the test cruise is complete, the cruise line must submit a report to the CDC about the number of positive COVID cases reported during the sailing. If the numbers look good, the CDC will grant the cruise line the ability to run cruises without requiring vaccinations comes July.
On the surface, this seems like a great idea. The CDC was unable to require vaccinations on all cruises because they feared a legal battle with the ultra-conservative governor of Florida. This option hypothetically lets everyone win.
However, as the month of May continues, new questions are sure to arise, such as how will passengers know if a cruise is going to be filled with vaccinated people or not? Or, what if a passenger discovers they’re on a cruise that isn’t requiring vaccinations? Can they ask for a refund? Switch cruise dates?
The next two months could be a bumpy one for the CDC and cruise lines, but these are important steps that need to be taken to ensure cruising is safe for both passengers and crew.