In a letter to cruise industry leaders Wednesday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention signaled that U.S. sailing operations may resume as soon as mid-July.
Local cruise lines with port destinations in the states, including Princess Cruises headquartered in Santa Clarita and Viking Cruises, headquartered in Woodland Hills, have been non-operational since the pandemic struck last year. Industry leaders have argued the CDC has placed unfair restrictions on their operations with the Conditional Sail Order, or CSO, initially implemented in October.
“We acknowledge that cruising will never be a zero-risk activity and that the goal of the CSO’s phased approach is to resume passenger operations in a way that mitigates the risk of Covid-19 transmission onboard cruise ships and across port communities,” CDC representative Aimee Treffiletti, head of the Covid-19 global migration task force maritime unit, wrote in the letter to industry leaders.
The letter outlines requirements cruise lines must meet to resume U.S. voyages, including implementing stringent testing, vaccination and quarantine policies onboard, increased sanitation and distancing protocols, as well as completing documentation to prove compliance.
In a statement about the letter, CDC spokesperson Caitlin Shockey confirmed to USA Today that cruises could begin voyages from the United States in mid-July, depending on cruise lines' speed of compliance. Cruise operators are required to submit port agreements to the CDC proving compliance with local health and port authorities, one of a series of requirements the Cruise Line International Association called “unduly burdensome” in a statement made earlier this month.