Today, Senators Rick Scott (Florida), Dan Sullivan (Alaska) and Marco Rubio (Florida) introduced the Careful Resumption Under Improved Safety Enhancements (CRUISE) Act, which would revoke the CDC’s current No Sail Order on cruises and require the CDC to provide COVID-19 mitigation guidance for cruise lines to resume safe domestic operations. Congresswoman María Elvira Salazar is leading this legislation in the House of Representatives.
The CRUISE Act:
- Requires the CDC to issue recommendations for how to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 to passengers and crew onboard cruise ships.
- Establishes an interagency “Working Group” that will develop recommendations to facilitate the resumption of passenger cruise ship operations in the United States. The recommendations will facilitate the resumption of passenger cruise ship operations in the United States no later than July 4, 2021.
- No later than July 4, 2021, the CDC must revoke the order entitled “Framework for Conditional Sailing and Initial Phase COVID-19 Testing Requirements for Protection of Crew.”
- Ensures that HHS and CDC retain all appropriate authorities to make and enforce regulations necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases on any individual cruise ship.
You can read the full Careful Resumption Under Improved Safety Enhancements (CRUISE) Act here.
In March, Senator Scott sent a letter to Jeffrey Zients, the White House COVID Response Coordinator, urging the Biden Administration to immediately issue clear guidance for the resumption of operations for the cruise industry. The CDC still has not responded to his letter or provided the cruise line industry with a timeline of when they can begin sailing, which is urgently needed. Senator Scott also introduced the Set Sail Safely Act last year, which would establish a Maritime Task Force, in coordination with a Private Sector Advisory Committee, to address the health, safety, security, and logistical changes needed to allow for cruise lines and ports to resume operations.
The following are quotes from included in the press release from the Senators, Congresswoman, and a few other stakeholders:
Senator Rick Scott said, “Florida is a tourism state with thousands of jobs relying on the success of our ports, cruise lines and maritime industries. While many sectors of the economy have been safely operating for months under CDC guidelines, Floridians, and those across the nation that rely on the cruise industry for work, continue to wait for updated guidance from the CDC. The CDC’s refusal to properly address this shutdown is wrong and it’s time to get the cruise lines open safely. Our bill, the CRUISE Act, says we’re not waiting on the CDC any longer. Cruises can and should resume, and we’re going to do everything we can to bring back our cruise industry safely.”
Senator Dan Sullivan said, “Unlike the airlines, rail, and other modes of transportation—and all other sectors of the hospitality industry for that matter—the cruise lines have been denied clear direction from the CDC on how to resume operations. As a result, potential cruises this summer, when the President said the country will be able to return to normal with more and more Americans getting vaccinated, have been left adrift. The foot-dragging, mixed messages, and unresponsiveness of CDC leaders is totally unacceptable and ultimately endangering the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Americans and the hundreds of small businesses across Alaska that rely on the tourism sector. My legislation with Senators Scott and Rubio will accomplish what letters, meetings, and repeated phone calls have not—directing the CDC to finally codify timely guidance and a plan for cruise ships to safely and responsibly welcome passengers again this summer.”
Senator Marco Rubio said, “The benefits of cruise operations are integral to the economies of Florida’s port cities. Floridians and many other Americans who are employed by ports, cruise operators, or work in hospitality jobs near cruise terminals face an uncertain future because of the CDC’s unresponsiveness to requests for guidance by stakeholder groups. I am proud to join Senators Sullivan and Scott in introducing legislation that would require the CDC to provide guidance to safely resume operations this summer, and allow Florida’s economy to recover even further.”
Congresswoman María Elvira Salazar said, “Welcoming over 5 million passengers and $9 billion dollars directly into our economy each year, Miami is the Cruise Capital of the World and it is time to start sailing again. I am proud to join my Senate colleagues and lead this fight in the House so that our ships can return to sea, our longshoremen can return to port, and Americans can start cruising again. This legislation will fix the CDC’s arbitrary guidelines and give clarity and fairness to the industry that creates hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout Miami’s entire tourism economy.”
Jerry Kaye, Owner, Lucite Creations in Miami, Florida said, “The industry has been sailing safely in other parts of the world already, and it is past time we restart cruising in this country. People are flying, traveling and beginning to resume their lives, and as business owners who have been impacted by this pause in cruising, all we are asking for is the opportunity to get back to work. I am grateful for Senator Scott’s leadership, we couldn’t be more excited about the possibility of a bill that would allow cruising to resume as soon as July, which means we could get back to a full schedule, and I can actually hire my employees back full time.”
Omar Otero, Founder and Owner, VOK Protective Services Inc. in Miami, Florida said, “As a business owner, I’ve been dependent on the cruise industry for my livelihood for 20 years, and this pause has been devastating. What many people don’t see behind the scenes is that cruising has a significant impact on many small businesses, and employs hundreds of thousands of people in America. Resuming cruising is critical to my business and would allow me to work again and support my family. I’m ecstatic to support Senator Scott’s legislation which could restart cruise operations this summer.”
Jeannette Pineiro, President, Cruiseport Destinations in Miami, Florida said, “The uncertainty we’ve been living with the last year is probably the most devastating mentally for a business owner. I have former employees that are still unemployed. They want to get back to work, and there has been nothing I could do. The cruise industry needs to be treated on par with other sectors of the travel industry, and this legislation would provide a plan to safely resume cruise operations. I commend Senator Scott for this legislation that if passed, would give business owners, like myself, a timeline and a date that we can work toward. I couldn’t be more overjoyed as a business owner, because we finally have hope on the horizon.”