Will Cruiselines Finally Begin Sailings Out of the US This Summer? A Look at Recent Guidance From the CDC

Cruiseline operators may finally get the green light to start sailing out of US ports on a limited basis. Earlier this month, a spokesperson from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that US-based cruises could potentially resume by mid-summer with restrictions. This statement is the most positive data point cruiseline operators have received since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

When might sailings begin?

I expect limited sailings to resume in the third quarter, with maybe 35% of company fleets back in the water. This assumes that vaccination rates continue to increase in the US and globally, and that infection rates gradually decline.


Will cruiseline passengers have to get vaccinated?

Currently, the CDC recommends (not mandates) that all eligible port personnel and travelers, including crew, get a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available to them. Cruiseline operators with an older consumer base may voluntarily require travelers to be vaccinated, while those with a younger base may not.

How did cruiseline operators react to the CDC’s conditions?

The CDC’s latest conditions have increased tensions between the agency and cruiseline operators. Many operators have raised massive amounts of debt to avoid bankruptcy and their liquidity runways are shortening. Some have announced they will relocate US-based ships to other markets and resume cruises outside of the US if the CDC does not announce a start date relatively soon. On April 15, Norwegian Cruiselines publicly requested that the CDC respond to its plan to restart cruising from its US ports beginning July 4. Norwegian has stated that it will make vaccines mandatory for its crew and passengers in order to get ships back in the water.

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