(WASHINGTON D.C.) — If you were thinking of hitting the open water for vacation this year, you might have to change your plans.
While a No Sail Order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) technically just expired, the organization that represents 95% of the world’s ocean-going cruise capacity just announced that ships that service the U.S. will be keeping their anchors down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The voluntary suspension of cruise operations in the States will extend through the end of this year, according to the Cruise Lines International Association, or CLIA, so that its members can “prepare for the implementation of extensive measures to address COVID-19 safety with the guidance of outside public health experts and the CDC.”
The organization issued a statement that read, in part, “As we continue to plan for a gradual and highly-controlled return of cruise operations in the U.S., CLIA members are committed to implementing stringent measures to address COVID-19 safety, including 100% testing of passengers and crew, expanded onboard medical capabilities, and trial sailings, among many others.”
Indeed, cruise ships and their passengers became hotspots for the pandemic earlier this year and as the disease spread, passengers and crew members sometimes found themselves quarantined on board for weeks at a time. As a result, the CDC suspended cruise operations, and the $53 billion a year industry saw its bottom line torpedoed.
Looking to assure seaborne travelers, CLIA continued, “We recognize the devastating impact that the pandemic continues to have on the 421,000 Americans whose livelihoods are connected directly to cruise operations. We will work with urgency to advance a responsible return to cruising while maintaining a focus on effective, science-based measures to protect public health.”
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