A person stretches at a park overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Carnival Panorama cruise ship as authorities encourage social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Long Beach, California Sunday, March 29, 2020. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
The trade association representing 95 percent of the global ocean-going ships says its members will maintain the voluntary suspension of cruise ship operations in the U.S. through the end of the year.
Cruise Lines International Association members include brands of Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, the three largest cruise ship groups. Each made their own separate announcements related to suspending U.S. cruises through the end of the year on Monday.
The voluntary suspension comes less than a week after the U.S. CDC issued framework guidance to resume cruise operations in earnest despite surging cases and recent warnings from government scientists that cruise ship travel exacerbates the spread of COVID-19. The CDC’s No Sail Order, which was first issued in March and later expanded multiple times, expired on October 31.
The framework requires cruise lines to “demonstrate adherence to testing, quarantine and isolation, and social distancing requirements to protect crew members while they build the laboratory capacity needed to test crew and future passengers.”
CLIA said today that extending the sailing suspension through the end of the year will give its members time to implement the extensive measures set out by the CDC and the guidance of outside public health experts.
The suspension has created unprecedented losses for cruise lines and beaten down cruise stocks. According to CLIA, the cruise industry generates over $53 billion in annual economic activity and supports 421,000 jobs in the United States. The cancellation of cruises since for nearly eight months has resulted in estimated losses of more than $25 billion in economic activity and over 164,000 American jobs.
The Association issued the following statement on behalf of its members:
“As we continue to plan for a gradual and highly-controlled return of cruise operations in the U.S., CLIA members are committed to implementing stringent measures to address COVID-19 safety, including 100% testing of passengers and crew, expanded onboard medical capabilities, and trial sailings, among many others. We share a common goal with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect public health, which has been affirmed and reaffirmed consistently throughout the industry’s response to the global pandemic. As we work to operationalize a path forward, our members have agreed to extend our existing suspension of U.S. operations through December 31. This action will provide additional time to align the industry’s extensive preparation of health protocols with the implementation requirements under the CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing and Initial Phase COVID-19 Testing Requirements for Protection of Crew. We recognize the devastating impact that the pandemic continues to have on the 421,000 Americans whose livelihoods are connected directly to cruise operations. We will work with urgency to advance a responsible return to cruising while maintaining a focus on effective, science-based measures to protect public health.”
CLIA’s statement added:
“In the nearly eight months that cruise operations in the U.S. have been suspended, CLIA members have been diligent in the planning and development of rigorous protocols in the interest of the health and safety of passengers, crew and the communities cruise lines serve. The public health protocols that CLIA members have agreed to adopt have been informed by the recommendations of world-class experts in public health and science, as well as the experiences of CLIA member lines who have resumed sailing in Europe and other parts of the world with approval from local and regional governments.”
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