NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has lifted its no sail order on cruise lines, a move Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar described as a “small but big step” to reviving the cruise industry.
D’Aguilar was speaking at a press conference regarding the November 1 reopening of the country’s tourism sector on Saturday.
He said: “We have been meeting with the cruise lines one on one; myself, someone in our cruise department at the Ministry of Tourism and Dr Delon Brennen has been involved in that process to review their protocols. Obviously, the enormous stumbling block has been getting CDC approval and the CDC has actually provided a pathway to resume sailing.”
“We’re very excited about that. It’s a small but big step. Like I said before, it’s going to be a process,” D’Aguilar said.
“They will probably start from Miami to their private islands with their staff just to check things out. Then they will move from that and start taking their customers to their private islands. Then they will come to Nassau and they will want pre-arranged, pre-vetted, pre-screened tours.
“The final step would then be moving to the general public. A condition of that is we get our community spread down. If our numbers are consistently high this would make it difficult to resume that very important part of our tourism revenue stream.”
The CDC lifted the No Sail Order for cruise ships this weekend, ending a more than seven-month ban.
The No Sail Order first went into effect on March 14 and was extended on April 15, July 16 and September 30, when it was extended until Oct. 31.
The CDC has established a series of requirements cruise lines will have to undertake to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The CDC said a careful approach is needed to safely resume cruise ship passenger operations.
The initial phase will consist of testing and additional safeguards for crew members and ensuring cruise lines have adequate health and safety protections for crew.
It noted that subsequent phases will include simulated voyages to test the cruise lines’ ability to mitigate Covid-19 risk, certification for ships that meet specific requirements, and a phased return to passenger cruises in a manner that, the CDC said, would mitigate Covid-19 risk to passengers, crew and US communities.