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While the outbreak appears to be over, the CDC’s new guidance means cruise ships could be back on the water by July. Today the CDC released new guidance intended to prevent another outbreak like the one that hit over 100 passengers and crew members of Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas ship, which resulted in 22 cases of the illness and one death. The new CDC guidance advises passengers of the potential risks they face when traveling on cruise ships, and recommends that passengers: According to the CDC, the new guidance should ensure that no more cruise ships are infected with the virus, and that the sailing industry can resume operations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have given new guidance on a new preventative measure for travelers and cruise passengers. The new guidance will allow passengers to enter the country within 14 days of their last contact with a sick person or potential carrier. This means that cruise ships will be able to set sail by July, and that the travel industry will regain millions of dollars in revenue. A further, unintended consequence of the new ruling is that Farragut, the cruise ship lab tech from the Tom Cruise film “The Hunt for Red October”, will be able to leave the lab and finally go on his dream vacation.

Unexpectedly, the Centers for Disease Control has issued new guidelines and said that cruises from U.S. ports can resume as early as this summer. The news comes from a letter to cruise industry officials obtained by USA Today.

What the CDC says about vaccines forpassengers

According to USA Today, the letter states, among other things, that CDC recognizes that cruises will never be a zero risk and that the goal of the phased approach [to the conditional sailing order] is to resume passenger travel in a manner that reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission on cruise ships and in port communities.

This is a letter from Aimee Treffiletti, COVID-19 Maritime Response Manager for the Global Mitigation Task Force.

Another report says that cruises can resume as early as mid-summer if the cruise lines meet certain conditions. The article goes on to say that after meetings between the CDC and cruise line representatives, several clarifications, changes and additions were made to the updated guidelines proposed in early April.

(Photo courtesy of CDC)

READ MORE: Two Carnival Cruise Line ships are returning to Galveston, Texas.

The new manual says:

  • Ships can waive the previously mandatory test flights and proceed directly to revenue-generating voyages if 98% of the crew and 95% of the passengers are fully vaccinated.
  • Vessels seeking to conduct simulation flights are now reviewed and responded to by the CDC within 5 days, whereas previously this could take up to 60 days.
  • CDC plans to update its testing and quarantine requirements for passengers and crew members of passenger flights to match its own current guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals.
  • Whereas before, cruise companies had to conclude agreements with every port they wish to call at, the new Directive allows them to conclude agreements with several ports, provided all the ports concerned agree.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has proposed clearer and updated guidance on quarantine requirements for passengers who may have come into contact with or become infected with COVID-19. The example given indicates that domestic passengers can go home, while passengers arriving at the cruise port can be quarantined in a hotel.

It should be noted that this does not guarantee that the ships will be able to sail this summer. Rather, it is about making this happen through guidance that provides much more clarity on the path to follow.

The CDC looks forward to continuing to work with the industry and encourages cruise lines to sign agreements with Phase 2A ports as soon as possible to maintain passenger schedules through mid-July, agency spokeswoman Caitlin Shockey told USA Today.

READ MORE: Norwegian adds new ships to 2021 cruise schedule

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