The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “no sail order” for cruise lines expired yesterday, and now they could be free to operate under their own timelines for the restart of business, after the White House reportedly blocked CDC Director Robert Redfield’s recommendation that cruise lines should remain prohibited from operating until mid-February because of the continued threat of COVID-19, according to numerous media reports.
Now, there is not much stopping the cruise industry from operating on its self-nominated November 1 start date, though under new health and safety protocols designed specifically with COVID-19 in mind.
The cruise lines’ own, self-imposed, no-sail timeline expires on the last day of this month.
Washington pundits believe the overruling of Redfield’s suggestion to continue the cruise line sail ban to be politically motivated, and not in line with the best medical advice.
Meantime, his recommendation would put cruise lines, and cruise-dependent ports in The Bahamas and Caribbean, near one year out of operation.
In the case of The Bahamas, though, as has been noted by tourism officials in The Bahamas and by the cruise lines themselves, cruises are likely to begin their itineraries with a focus on their private islands in The Bahamas.
Economic analysts contend that The Bahamas could benefit more from the cruise industry restart since Royal Caribbean Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, MSC and Norwegian Cruise Line all have private islands in The Bahamas.
Despite the CDC director’s rejected recommendation, cruise lines have, on their own, been slicing away at future itineraries, leaving a bare minimum for the end of the year, and early 2021.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line announced mid-September that its newest ship, Odyssey of the Seas, which was scheduled to have its inaugural sailing on November 5, from Fort Lauderdale on a four-night itinerary to The Bahamas, will now sail April 2021.
“Our goal is to resume operations on November 1, 2020,” the cruise line said.
“However, the following circumstances have extended the suspension for the following ships and sailings: European and transatlantic sailings through the end of November 2020; Australia sailings through December 31, 2020; and Odyssey of the Seas sailings from November 5, 2020 through April 17, 2021 will be canceled.
“Given the closure of shipyards along with the disruption to the supply chain caused by this pandemic, we’ll need additional time to complete the Odyssey of the Seas’ scheduled construction.
“Liberty of the Seas’ amplification has been postponed to a later date and the ship will now sail to Galveston earlier than planned. Regrettably, only one ship can dock at the Galveston pier at a time, so we have to cancel our February 14, 2021 Jewel of the Seas cruise.”