Cruise Industry Spars With CDC Over How to Restart Sailings

Cruise operators are pushing federal health authorities to let voyages begin in July, but the two sides are clashing on how to restart voyages.

The industry argues that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidance that travel poses low risks for fully vaccinated individuals should apply to cruises, too. It wants the agency to scrap its plans for a phased sailing restart that has been in place since the fall.

“We’d just like to be treated similar to the rest of travel and entertainment and tourism sector,” Carnival Corp. Chief Executive Arnold Donald said Wednesday.

The CDC still recommends against travel on cruise ships because of what it calls a very high risk of Covid-19 on such vessels. And while the agency is sticking with the phased approach, it recently pointed to the possibility of a summer restart of service.

The agency’s “goal aligns with the desire for resumption of passenger operations in the United States expressed by many major cruise-ship operators and travelers, hopefully by midsummer,” a CDC spokeswoman said Wednesday. Cruise operators haven’t sailed from the U.S. for about a year after coronavirus outbreaks brought voyages to a halt.

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