Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is pushing for a restart of sailings with reduced capacity from the US with vaccinated passengers and crew from July 4.
The operator of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises outlined its plan to resume cruising from US ports in a letter to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The company insisted its plan “is consistent with the CDC’s updated guidance that international travel is safe for fully vaccinated individuals and that Covid-19 vaccination efforts will be critical in the safe resumption of cruise ship travel”.
The CDC announced a relaxation of US travel restrictions on Good Friday but said little about when cruises from the country’s ports would be able to resume.
This led cruise industry body Clia to reiterate a call on the Biden administration lift the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) this month to allow for the planning of a controlled return to service this summer.
Norwegian said: “By requiring full and complete vaccinations of guests and crew, the company believes it shares in the spirit and exceeds the intent of the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order to advance mutual public health goals and protect guests, crew and the communities it visits.
“Norwegian trusts and is optimistic the CDC will agree that mandatory vaccination requirements eliminate the need for the CSO and therefore requests for the lifting of the order for Norwegian’s vessels, allowing them to cruise from US ports starting July 4.
“The company looks forward to its continued partnership with the CDC in recommencing operations with 100% vaccinated guests and crew aboard and reduced capacity initially as part of a phased-in launch.”
Presdent and chief executive Frank del Rio said: “We congratulate the CDC on the steps it has taken to further open travel for vaccinated Americans.
“Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings shares the CDC’s view that vaccinations are the primary vehicle for Americans to get back to their everyday lives.
”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.
“We look forward to joining the rest of the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors in participating in this next phase of our recovery.”
Norwegian pointed out that almost 400,000 passengers have been carried successfully over the past eight months by the cruise industry in more than ten major cruise markets outside the US “with only a few isolated Covid-19 cases that were effectively identified, contained, and mitigated without impacting the health or interrupting the vacations of others”.
This was all carried out prior to the availability of widespread vaccinations.
Del Rio added: “Our robust and comprehensive SailSAFE health and safety programme extends well beyond the protocols of the travel, leisure and hospitality sectors, all of which have already reopened including hotels and resorts, casinos, restaurants, sporting venues, theme parks and airlines.
“With vaccine mandates and strict health and safety protocols in place, we believe we can provide a uniquely safe and healthy vacation experience.
“With our vessels back in operation, we will not only reinstate thousands of American jobs and meet the significant consumer demand for cruising, but also re-contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. economy as the industry resumes cruise operations.”
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