NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued its second phase of technical guidance under the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO), bringing cruise lines one step closer to sailing in United States territorial waters.
The technical instructions will allow cruise lines to prepare their ships for simulation voyages, which will include trial voyages that will allow crew and port personnel to practice new COVID-19 operational procedures with volunteers before sailing with paying passengers.
The CDC last Friday issued the long-awaited technical guidance for cruise lines.
Its new recommendations include increasing from weekly to daily the reporting of COVID-19 cases; establishing a plan and timeline for vaccination of crew and port personnel; implementing routine testing of all crew based on a ship’s COVID-19 status; and making contractual arrangements with medical facilities on shore for passengers who may fall ill during a voyage.
While cruise lines are still unable to sail in the US, some, such as Royal Caribbean and Crystal Cruises, have recently announced cruises starting in The Bahamas this year.
Crystal Cruises Luxury Bahamas Escapes, aboard Crystal Serenity, is set to launch July 3 with plans to stop in Harbour Island, Great Exuma, San Salvador Island and Long Island.
Opposition has mounted against cruise tourism on Harbour Island since the announcement and views are said to be split on the issue on Exuma.
Royal Caribbean announced it will set sail starting June 12 with cruise packages for The Bahamas and Mexico, marking the cruise line’s first return to the Caribbean since the COVID-19 pandemic brought the cruise industry to a standstill last year.