While many of us dream of setting sail on a luxurious cruise across the Caribbean Sea, there is no amount of free buffet food and Broadway-esque entertainment that can distract one entirely from the reality that cruise ships tend to be more at risk for outbreaks of infectious diseases. Given the close proximity of travelers in a relatively small, enclosed space, justifiable concern exists about cruising in the days of Covid.
As such, on March 14, 2020 the United States Government issued a No Sail Order for cruise ships with the capacity for at least 250 passengers in waters subject to US jurisdiction, and where an overnight stay onboard by passengers and crew is anticipated. This order has been extended numerous times over the last few months and was scheduled to expire on September 30, 2020.
Prior to the expiration, Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requested another extension of the No Sail Order to Mid-February 2021. However, at the Coronavirus Task Force meeting this week, the Order was extended another month and scheduled to expire on October 31,2020, allowing cruise ship companies to decide whether to resume their services on November 1, 2020.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents major cruise lines world-wide, had already decided to postpone ocean sailings in US waters until at least November. The CLIA stated that they plan to follow the recommendations from the Healthy Sail Panel – a group established by several of the major cruise lines.
When cruise lines resume their services, masks will be mandatory for all passengers and crew, and anyone boarding the ship will first be required to take a COVID-19 test before they are allowed to board. All cruise ships must also have a designated number of isolation cabins in the event of an outbreak while at sea.
So what does this mean for the US Virgin Islands? We haven’t yet heard whether our Governor will allow cruise ships to return to our ports next month. We will keep you posted with any new developments!
What do YOU think? Will you be booking a cruise in the coming months?