Cruise operations will resume on November 1 after the White House rejected a demand by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to extend its no-sail order through to next year.
Various media reports said the CDC and the White House Coronavirus Task Force had agreed that the no-sail order, which expires today, September 30, would now run through to October 31 to coincide with the expiry of the Cruise Lines International Association’s voluntary suspension of sailing from North American waters, which ends on the same date.
USA Today said that it had been told by “a person familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly” that the CDC had wanted to extend the no-sail order through to February 15, 2021, but in the end a compromise was reached on October 31.
CDC wanted extension through February, 2021
On Tuesday, Axios reported that Vice President Mike Pence had overruled CDC Director Robert Redfield, who had pushed for a longer extension due to the ‘virus’ severity and the vulnerability for spread on cruises.’
Axios quoted a White House official as saying that the task force expects the industry to submit a plan by October 31 to show that “ships can sail in a safe and responsible manner and that the companies assume the burden of dealing with any possible outbreaks.”
Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings have already submitted a report to the CDC compiled by their joint “Healthy Sail Panel,” which concluded cruising can be safe in the current health environment with a robust set of science-backed protocols.
The Axios report went on to say that cruise industry representatives would be meeting with the White House on Friday to present their plans to enable a safe return to cruising.
The no sail-order, which came into effect on March 14, and was last renewed on July 16, remains in effect until:
- “The expiration of the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ declaration that COVID-19 constitutes a public health emergency,
- The CDC Director rescinds or modifies the order based on specific public health or other considerations, or
- ◦September 30, 2020.”
At the time of writing, the CDC has yet to make any announcement or to update it’s website on a renewal of the order.
Market expects positive comments from CDC
Barclays analyst Felicia Hendrix said earlier this week that she did not believe the CDC would lift the order before the end of the month, but said it may make positive comments on a resumption of operations when it did make an announcement.
“While chances are high (in our view) that the CDC extends the date again (likely into 4Q20), we believe the comments from the agency will be positive and could signal a near-term return to cruise,” said Hendrix.