By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
The Centres for Disease Control in the US has issued new technical guidance for cruise lines looking to resume sailing in 2021.
The CDC, provided technical instructions on their Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) issued in October, where they are now, “requiring cruise lines to establish agreements at ports where they intend to operate, implement routine testing of crew, and develop plans incorporating vaccination strategies to reduce the risk of introduction and spread of COVID-19 by crew and passengers.”
The CDC is also asking for cruise lines to increase their reporting frequency on COVID-19 cases and illnesses from weekly to daily and also implement routine testing of all crew members based on each ship’s colour status.
Ships that classify as “red” with either no port agreements or their agreements are pending, should conduct screening testing of crew members weekly and those as “orange” will be every two weeks. Ships that classify as “yellow” have no specified time and those with “green” should conduct testing every 28 days.
The CDC has also decreased the amount of time that it takes for a ship that has classified as red to become green from 28 days to now 14 days.
Cruise lines will also have to create planning materials for any agreement that they enter into with any port authority and local health authority and those authorities must approve that each individual ship has the necessary infrastructure to manage any outbreak that would happen on board as well as have the necessary capacity and housing to isolate infected people.
There must also be a plan and timeline for vaccination of crew and port personnel under their management.
The CDC also said: “The next phase of the CSO will include simulated (trial) voyages that will allow crew and port personnel to practice new COVID-19 operational procedures with volunteers before sailing with passengers.
Michael Bayley, chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruise line, announced in November that over 100,000 people had signed up to its trial cruise voyage. However, there is no idea where this trial voyage will head.
RCCL has announced its intention to return to sailing from The Bahamas in June of this year as well as announced that it will be home porting at Prince George Wharf, joining Crystal Cruise line who will also be home porting at Prince George Wharf in June.
“COVID-19 vaccination efforts will be critical in the safe resumption of passenger operations. As more people are fully vaccinated, the phased approach allows CDC to incorporate these advancements into planning for resumption of cruise ship travel when it is safe to do so. CDC recommends that all eligible port personnel and travellers (passengers and crew) get a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available to them.”