Norwegian, which despite its name is a US-based company, sent a letter Monday to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notifying it of its proposal. It is the first major American cruise line to present plans for the resumption of travel in the United States.
So on Monday, Norwegian essentially said: Enough. The company said it plans to require vaccinations for everyone on a ship at least two weeks before sailing.
“Vaccines are the primary vehicle for Americans to get back into their everyday lives,” said Norwegian CEO Frank Del Rio. “We believe that through a combination of 100% mandatory vaccinations for guests and crew and measures science-backed public health … we can create a safe, ‘bubble-like’ environment. “
CDC issues return to sea plan
The CDC statement was not well received by the industry.
The Cruise Line International Association, the industry’s trade group, on Monday called the CDC’s statement “disappointing,” “excessively burdensome” and “largely unworkable.” He said the health agency is demanding a zero-risk approach to cruise ships, rather than calling for efforts to mitigate the pandemic, which it said is the CDC’s guidance for “all other American sectors of our society.”
In response, the CDC said they are committed to working with the cruise industry to resume shipping following their phased approach outlined in their conditional sailing order, hopefully by mid-summer.
But Norwegian said it shares the CDC’s view that vaccines can help Americans get back on track and believes its plan “shares the spirit and exceeds the intent” of the CDC guidelines.
The company sails under the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands. The other two big US-based cruise companies, Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean, have yet to announce their own plans for the resumption of US travel.
“We are reviewing and studying all options to ensure the health and safety of our guests and crew,” said Royal Caribbean.
All three companies suffered massive losses last year, totaling $ 6.8 billion between them. All have borrowed large amounts of money and cut staff to overcome the crisis.
But US public health officials have not approved the resumption of US cruises, the world’s largest cruise market. The trade group has asked the CDC to announce a definite date for the resumption of US cruises in early July.
“The lack of action by the CDC has effectively banned all travel in the world’s largest cruise market,” the group’s statement said on March 24. “Cruising is the only sector of the US economy that remains banned, even though most others have opened or continued to operate during the pandemic.”
The CDC guidance that is blocking US cruise ships “does not reflect the proven progress and success of the industry operating in other parts of the world, or the advent of vaccines, and it unfairly treats cruise ships differently,” said Kelly Craighead. , CEO of the group. “Cruise lines should be treated the same as other travel, tourism, hospitality and entertainment sectors.”