The pressure on the CDC from cruise line executives, trade unions, and elected officials appears to have prompted at least one initial change in the agency’s regulations regarding the Conditional Sailing Order.
The first of the amendments made by the CDC removes the 12-hour terminal separation rule, which mandated that cruise lines must avoid congregating embarking and disembarking passengers in the cruise terminal within a 12-hour period.
That part of the Conditional Sailing Order would have prevented cruise ships being able to share the same enclosed or semi-enclosed areas, such as gangways, terminal waiting spaces, and check-in areas.
The 12-hour window between using these facilities would make cruise operations nearly impossible in busy cruise ports like PortMIami and Cape Canaveral.
Cruise ships would not have been able to share a terminal and a single vessel would have had to disembark guests in the morning and then only embark new passengers in the evening, leading to late departures and very little buffer room for unforeseen delays.
The wording on the CDC website has now been changed from ’12 hours’ and replaced with ‘to the extent practicable’:
To avoid congregating of embarking and disembarking travelers, to ensure disembarking and embarking passengers do not occupy the same enclosed or semi-enclosed areas (e.g., gangways, terminal waiting spaces, check-in areas), to the extent practicable, and to ensure disembarking and embarking travelers from different ships do not occupy the same enclosed or semi-enclosed areas (e.g., gangways, terminal waiting spaces, check-in areas), to the extent practicable.
It is a small victory for the cruise lines, but hopefully one of many as the industry continues to push to be allowed to resume cruises for the US summer cruise season.
It is becoming increasingly unlikely that cruises will be able to resume by the cruise industry’s preferred symbolic deadline of July 4th. Cruise lines will need at least 90 days to meet the many measures and procedures the CDC is demanding.
“We really just don’t have the details or transparency or engagement with the CDC that we need to begin sailing by this summer, which is such an important season for the cruise industry and for vacationers,” said Christine Duffy, President & CEO, Carnival Cruise Line.
“We respect the CDC and the work that they are doing at a much broader scale, but at the same time, the cruise industry, as far as we know, is the only industry that has not been able to operate for more than a year,” she told local news station 10 Local.