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As the Caribbean travel season gets underway, the CDC is seeking to regain some of the ports it lost after a fresh round of illnesses on board a ship returning from the region. The CDC’s John Armstrong has indicated that the agency is open to meeting with cruise lines that would like to return to ports in the Caribbean. Cruise Lines International Association CEO Joe Sprague has taken a different approach, saying that the cruise lines could be willing to continue discussions with the CDC, but that there were no plans to bring ships back to ports in the Caribbean.

As cruise lines announce a proposed mid-April Caribbean relaunch date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that all ships entering the US from the Caribbean will be required to submit passenger manifests for the next 3 months. (Each month, about 375,000 international visitors enter the US, and the CDC has noted that the majority of these individuals arrive by cruise ship.) The ship manifests will be used to monitor the passenger populations for any disease outbreaks.(As of April 1, the CDC will also require all cruise ships to take on food and fuel in the US. However, cruise lines will be exempt from American laws on dumping waste wa

Cruise lines operating in Caribbean waters are in talks with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to resume flights to the region from U.S. ports, said Michael Bailey, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International.

We have had constructive discussions with the CDC and the [US] government, which is a very important health agency for us, Bailey said Wednesday at an online briefing of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). Most of our operations are conducted from U.S. ports, he said.

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Bailey sought to prevent speculation that cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, would operate from ports outside the United States in order to avoid a practical CDC embargo on shipping from U.S. ports.

We’re not trying to get around the Center for Disease Control’s swimming ban, Bailey said. I think [the negotiations] are going well and are on a very positive path, especially because of the progress on vaccines.

This constructive dialogue gives us great hope for the future, said Bailey, who cited the encouraging results of customer surveys conducted since the pandemic began. In recent months, these polls have become incredibly positive, he said.

People believe that the worst is over [and] that everything comes to an end. People are positive about the future of travel, Bailey says. We see this in our orders for 2022, especially for the Caribbean. The strong upcoming orders show that [the enthusiasm] is real.

Cruise lines will be ready to safely resume operations in the region, Bailey said. He said a cruise industry working group made up of Caribbean destinations and major shipping companies operating in the region had been working for months to develop scientific protocols for cruise ships in port, based on recent pandemic events.

There will be tests and protocols for crew and guests, largely determined by the CDC, Bailey said. One of the industry’s goals is to vaccinate all crew members.

We know it will take some time, and we know there is a shortage of vaccines in many parts of the world right now, he said. However, we have been assured that sufficient vaccine will be available worldwide in the coming months.

Bailey added: Since January, over 80% of our cruise bookings for 2021 and 2022 have been made by people who have been vaccinated. With the introduction of COVAX in the coming months, I think we are moving to an environment where the target population is not fully but broadly vaccinated, where the crew of our ships are vaccinated, and where the vast majority of our guests are vaccinated.

I am convinced that the year 2022 can be one of the greatest tourism years in our history. Not just for the cruise, but for the [whole] Caribbean.

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