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Norwegian Cruise Lines wants CDC to let vaccinated passengers sail


Norwegian, which despite its name is a US-based company, sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday, informing it of its proposal. It is the first major American cruise line to make plans for a resumption of American cruises.

No industry has been decimated like the US cruise ship industry, which has not been able to sail to or from a US port for over a year. Other industries, even in travel and hospitality, are showing signs of a rebound. Rising vaccination rates give hope for a return to normal. But the US cruise industry is still stuck in limbo with no clear signs of recovery.

So on Monday Norwegian basically said: Enough. The company said it plans to require vaccinations for everyone on a ship at least two weeks before departure.

“Vaccinations are the main way for Americans to resume their daily lives,” said Norwegian CEO Frank Del Rio. we can create a safe, bubble-like environment. “

CDC publishes return to sea plan

On Friday, the CDC released advice on how it plans to allow crossings to resume. He said he “recommends” rather than requiring vaccinations for everyone on board a ship. The group also said it wanted to see “simulated (test) trips that will allow crew and port staff to practice new Covid-19 operating procedures with volunteers before sailing with passengers.” And he did not give a date when the CDC planned to re-authorize U.S. crossings for the first time since March 2020.

The CDC’s statement was not well received by the industry.

The Cruise Line International Association, the industry’s trade group, on Monday called the CDC’s statement “disappointing,” “too cumbersome” and “largely unworkable.” He said the health agency was demanding a zero-risk approach to cruises, rather than calling for efforts to mitigate the pandemic, which it said is the CDC’s guideline for “all other U.S. sectors to our society”.

The CDC did not comment immediately on Norwegian’s plans or on industry criticism of its statement.

But Norwegian said he shares the CDC’s view that vaccinations can help Americans get back to normal, and he believes his plan “shares the spirit and goes beyond the intent” of the CDC guidelines.

The company sails under the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands. The other two major US-based cruise lines, Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean, have yet to announce their own plans for resuming cruises to the United States.

“We are reviewing and studying all options to ensure the health and safety of our guests and our crew,” said Royal Caribbean.

Actions of Norwegian (NCLH), Carnival (CCL) and Royal Caribbean (RCL) all closed earlier Monday on the proposal.

Cruise ban

The three companies all suffered massive losses last year, totaling $ 6.8 billion between them. All of them borrowed large sums of money and reduced their staff to get out of the crisis.

Cruising has resumed in more than 10 major cruise markets around the world, with nearly 400,000 cruise passengers in the past eight months in Europe, Asia and the South Pacific, according to industry group Cruise Line International Association. Additional crossings are planned in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean later this spring and summer. But Canada has extended its cruise ban until 2022.

But US public health officials have not approved the resumption of cruises to the United States, the world’s largest cruise market. The trade group called on the CDC to announce a specific date for the resumption of US cruises in early July.

“The lack of any action by the CDC has effectively banned all cruises in the world’s largest cruise market,” the group said on March 24 in a statement. “Cruising is the only sector of the US economy that remains off-limits, even as most others have opened or have continued to operate throughout the pandemic.”

CDC advice blocking US cruises “does not reflect the industry’s proven progress and success in other parts of the world, or the advent of vaccines, and unfairly treats cruises differently,” he said. said Kelly Craighead, CEO of the group. “Cruise lines should be treated the same as other travel, tourism, hospitality and entertainment industries.”

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