Norwegian, which despite its name is an American company, sent a letter on Monday to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and informed it of its proposal. It is the first major U.S. cruise line to plan a resumption of U.S. sailings.
So on Monday, Norwegian essentially said: Enough. The company said it plans to require vaccinations for everyone on a ship at least two weeks before sailing.
“Vaccinations are the primary means for Americans to get back to their everyday lives,”
The CDC issues a return-to-sea plan
The CDC’s statement was not welcomed by the industry.
The Cruise Line International Association, the industry trade group, on Monday called the CDC’s statement “disappointing”, “unreasonably cumbersome” and “virtually impossible.” It said the health agency requires a zero-risk approach to cruises, rather than requiring efforts to mitigate the pandemic, which it said is the CDC’s guideline for “every other American sector in our society.”
In response, the CDC said it is committed to working with the cruise industry to resume sailing following the step-by-step approach outlined in its conditional sailing order – hopefully by mid-summer.
But Norwegian said it shares the CDC’s view that vaccinations can help Americans return to normalcy and that they believe its plan “shares in spirit and exceeds intent” in the CDC’s guidelines.
The company sails under the brands Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. The other two major U.S.-based cruise companies, Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean, have not yet announced their own plans to resume U.S. sailings.
“We review and study all options to ensure the health and safety of our guests and crew,” said Royal Caribbean.
The three companies all suffered huge losses last year, a total of $ 6.8 billion between them. Everyone has borrowed large sums of money and cut staff to remove the crisis.
But U.S. public health officials have not signed a resumption of U.S. shipping, the world’s largest cruise market. The trade group has called on the CDC to announce a specific date for the resumption of U.S. cruises in early July.
“The lack of any action by the CDC has effectively banned all sailings on the world’s largest cruise market,” the group’s statement said on March 24. “Cruise is the only sector of the U.S. economy that remains banned, even though most others have opened or continue to operate throughout the pandemic.”
The guidance from the CDC, which blocks U.S. cruises, “does not reflect the industry’s proven progress and success operating in other parts of the world, or the emergence of vaccines and unfairly treating cruises differently,” said group CEO Kelly Craighead. “Cruise ships must be treated the same as other travel, tourism, hospitality and entertainment sectors.”