CDC Issues Framework for Conditional Sailing Order for Cruise Ships Effectively Ending the No Sail Order

On October 30, 2020, the day before the No Sail Order was set to expire, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Framework for Conditional Sailing Order for cruise ships which means an end to the No Sail Order. This order will allow a phased approach to resuming cruise ship passenger operations in U.S. waters, opening up a pathway to resumption of cruise operations.

This Order shall remain in effect until the earliest of:

  • 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
  • November 1, 2021.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announces this framework for a phased resumption of cruise ship passenger operations. Considering the continued spread of COVID-19 worldwide and increased risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships, a careful approach is needed to safely resume cruise ship passenger operations. CDC is establishing requirements to mitigate the COVID-19 risk to passengers and crew, prevent the further spread of COVID-19 from cruise ships into U.S. communities, and protect public health and safety. After expiration of CDC’s No Sail Order (NSO) on October 31, 2020, CDC will take a phased approach to resuming cruise ship passenger operations in U.S. waters.

The initial phases will consist of testing and additional safeguards for crew members. CDC will ensure cruise ship operators have adequate health and safety protections for crew members while these cruise ship operators build the laboratory capacity needed to test future passengers. Subsequent phases will include simulated voyages to test cruise ship operators’ ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk, certification for ships that meet specific requirements, and a phased return to cruise ship passenger voyages in a manner that mitigates COVID-19 risk among passengers, crew members, and U.S. communities. These phases are subject to change based on public health considerations and cruise ship operators’ demonstrated ability to mitigate COVID- 19 risk. CDC will issue additional orders as needed that will be published in the Federal Register and technical instructions that will be subsequently posted on CDC’s website.

This Order additionally announces requirements for the initial phases relating to crew testing. CDC considers adequate crew safeguards as demonstrated through laboratory testing for SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19, an integral part of the initial phases prior to resuming passenger operations.

Exerpt: CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing Order – October 30, 2020

This Order is effective upon signature and published in the Federal Register.

Finally, it is extremely important to remember that this order will not open cruising overnight or in a few weeks. The cruise lines in general have stated this will be a slow and methodical restart, not a simple flip of a switch. There still could be some cancellations and changes to upcoming scheduled cruises. Basically, I’m not packing my bags yet for our scheduled cruise in December. Just going to sit and wait for official word from the various cruise lines on their restart plans.

12 Replies to “CDC Issues Framework for Conditional Sailing Order for Cruise Ships Effectively Ending the No Sail Order”

  1. David

    That was an interesting read of the CDC guidelines. The cruise lines are going to have to jump through a lot of hoops just to be allowed to begin sailing in US waters.

  2. Justin

    I’d wait till after the election as the new administration may listen to the CDC who wanted to block cruises until 2021.

  3. Mary Ann Morrison

    This is so exciting. I modified my March 2021 sailing to the 2022 Panama Canal. If the ships sail this coming March, I will very happily add another cruise. Last cruise was in October 2019, and it is way too long to be off the ship. Hopeful and Happy right now!

  4. Paul

    My wife and I are dedicated Disney Cruise line customers. As Florida residents, we are also annual passholders to Disney World. You Tube, has many Disney World discussion sites just like the many cruise line sites, which we listen to and read the comments.. Back in July the Disney World sites were full of happiness and joy when the park re-opened with people declaring “All I want to do, is be back at the Magic Kingdom.” Yesterday, I read “All I want to do, is be back on a cruise.” Now, 4 months later after Disney World re-opened, that excitement has turned into disappointment, negative comments and downright nastiness. The same excited people complain about being charged the same admission prices without getting the same experience. The complaints range from no fireworks, no parades, limited restaurant choices, highly enforced mask protocols, long lines due to social distancing, and especially lack of live shows, Lately, the bitterness is being focused on Bob Chapek and other Disney executives for collecting full salaries while many front line cast members are out of work and the company not delivering the full Disney experience. Many are vowing not return until all the amenities are returned. While the news for the cruise industry was good, I hope that good news will not sour over the next few months

  5. James Arthur

    Yep, people want to return to pre Covid-19 and to cruise under the current conditions. TBH, right now, I would be happy to sit on a verandah for the entire cruise, have the staff drop the food off at my door and only get off at Castaway Cay.

  6. Mike

    With the number of steps cruise lines must implement before requesting CDC approval (and the CDC specifying 60 days to approve those plans), how soon is it really realistic to expect cruising to return? Honestly, I suspect it’s going to be closer to summer than it is New Years.

  7. Jason Karcher

    This is how I read it …
    At least 28 days of EDC reporting to enter US waters and at least 30 days prior to performing simulated voyages
    At least 60 days after completion of the simulated voyages to restart with a conditional certificate.

    If the cruise lines want to restart, there is at least a three month window before that can happen, and I suspect if a cruise line really wanted to restart and began now, we could see cruises in February. But that’s going to be as much about desire as anything – and the cruise lines may want to wait for election results and gauge a potential Biden administration’s response, particularly given the indications that CDC would rather have prohibited cruising into 2021 in the first place. If the lines do that, then maybe March is a more feasible earliest restart, and you might very well be right in terms of closer to summer than New Year’s.


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