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Major cruise company takes the restart gloves off in the USA…isn’t time for the same to happen here?

April 9, 2021 Cruise News, Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

According to a report by Aaron Saunders a Cruise Critic Contributor, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has taken off the gloves in the cruising restart fight in the USA, with down here in Australia many in the sector saying to Global Travel Media it is time that the same thing happened here.

Saunders’ report says that Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings the parent of Norwegian Cruise Lines, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises, has fired off a proposal to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asking for a July 4 restart under strict health and safety protocols that include mandatory vaccinations against COVID-19 for all crew and passengers.

It is the latest tactic in the cruise industry’s lengthy effort to be allowed to restart cruise operations within the United States, and it comes just days after the CDC declared travel for vaccinated Americans a low-risk activity while at the same time issuing additional guidance for the cruise industry that could further delay any restart plans from the United States.

With the CDC having prohibited nearly all cruise operations within the United States since March 2020 Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, is demonstrating their frustration, taking action, petitioning the CDC to allow for a July 4, 2021 restart of limited operations from the U.S.

The company has submitted a letter to the CDC outlining its plan to resume cruises from U.S. ports of call using its SailSAFE Health and Safety protocols developed in conjunction with globally recognized experts including those from the Healthy Sail Panel developed jointly between NCLH and Royal Caribbean Group, with the Healthy Sail Panel’s medical experts members concluding back in September that a safe return to cruise was possible and since then, cruises have restarted safely in Singapore and in Europe.

NCLH states its plan is consistent with guidance for international travel being classified as safe by the CDC for fully vaccinated individuals and it further says the company will require full vaccination for all passengers and crew as a condition of being allowed to restart operations July 4.

NCLH President and CEO Frank Del Rio said in a statement, “We congratulate the CDC on the steps it has taken to further open travel for vaccinated Americans,” and. “Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings shares the CDC’s view that vaccinations are the primary vehicle for Americans to get back to their everyday lives.”

He added, “We believe that through a combination of 100% mandatory vaccinations for guests and crew and science-backed public health measures as developed by the Healthy Sail Panel, led by former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt and former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Dr. Scott Gottlieb, we can create a safe, ‘bubble-like’ environment for guests and crew”.

Del Rio also noted in his statement that cruise is the only form of travel being prohibited from operating within the United States, adding, “We look forward to joining the rest of the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors in participating in this next phase of our recovery.”

Sop Cruise critic asks What Happens Next, with effectively, NCLH isn’t asking for permission to operate, but is actually telling the CDC it fully intends to operate sailings as of July 4 within the United States, though NCLH will ultimately still need the CDC’s OK to do so.

In its letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, NCLH outlines five key steps NCLH will take to resume operations within the United States.

This includes the requirement that all passengers and crew are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with an FDA, EMA, or WHO-approved vaccine. It stipulates that appropriate health and safety measures developed by the Healthy Sail Panel will be followed. NCLH also further stipulates that sailings will resume “on or about July 4, 2021” from the United States, with an initial reduced capacity of 60 percent, increasing by 20 percent every 30 days.

The group has also committed to keeping these health and safety protocols in place until advised otherwise by the CDC.

NCLH notes it will not be reliant on shoreside facilities to handle or mitigate any potential COVID-19 outbreaks onboard, saying, “We will not require federal, state or local governments to incur time and/or resources in providing medical assistance to our brands’ guests as we have invested tens of millions of dollars in enhanced onboard health and safety protocols, including, but not limited to, enhanced hospital grade air filtration systems, cutting-edge contact tracing technology and significantly upgraded ICU and quarantine medical facilities,” adding, “Our vessels are well equipped to handle the one-off case of infection that could occur, and our procedures are well detailed and resourced to treat, address and otherwise handle any isolated case onboard.”

When asked about the proposal, a CDC spokesperson told Cruise Critic in a statement, “Cruising safely and responsibly during a global pandemic is difficult”, adding, “While cruising will always pose some risk of COVID-19 transmission, following the phases of the conditional sailing order will ensure cruise ship passenger operations are conducted in a way that protects crew members, passengers, and port personnel; particularly, with emerging COVID-19 variants of concern.”

In the meantime, Norwegian Cruise Line announced on April 6 that it intends to restart limited summer sailings outside the United States, homeporting vessels in Greece, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic with the full blessing of local authorities.

An edited report from Cruise Critic by John Alwyn-Jones, Cruise Editor

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. gnits says:

    …..nclh: we’re not asking permission, we’re just telling you…. cdc: in your dreams…. lol..

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