Cruise lines promise 100% testing in plan for resuming sailing

Sandra L. Pouncy

Major cruise lines say they will test all passengers and crew for COVID-19 prior to boarding as part of their plan for resuming sailing in the United States.

a large ship in a body of water: Cruise ships

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Cruise ships

The Cruise Lines International Association says its members will also require masks onboard and on shore excursions whenever physical distancing can’t be maintained. It also calls for enhanced cleaning and sanitation procedures.

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No date has been set for the resumption of cruising in the Americas, but a statement from the association indicates a return to sailing could be possible before the end of the year.

“With support and approval of regulators and destinations, cruises could feasibly begin during the remainder of 2020,” the Cruise Lines International Association statement said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a no-sail order for U.S. waters through Sept. 30.

The association’s safety plan will now go to the CDC, which will consider it as the agency decides whether to lift that order.

The plan stems from 74 detailed steps outlined by a Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines Healthy Sail Panel that industry leaders believe will protect guests, crew members and the places cruise ships visit from the spread of COVID-19.

Tourism Industry expert Abraham Pizam, from UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, is cautious about the safety changes being floated around.

“It’s not a question of you do that and everything else goes back to normal, but it will take time. It will cost them a lot of money and in the end, the question is going back to the consumer. Will the consumer trust that? Will the consumer say, ‘now I’m comfortable and I’m willing to go,’” Pizam said.

As this scenario continues, the economic hole for the Port and surrounding businesses deepens. This week, Port Canaveral officials are set to talk about an evolving budget again.

Despite newfound optimism and sweeping safety changes, Pizam still estimates a lengthy return for the cruise industry.

“I would probably estimate somewhere in the six to eight months after we are assured that the vaccines are working,” he said.

Even with the new safety overhaul for the cruise industry, CLIA has stated voyages are on hold through the end of October, and the cruise industry is still under the CDC’s ‘No Sail Order.’

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