The CDC's No Sail Order affecting cruises entering US waters was permitted to expire during the weekend, replaced with what the CDC has named a Framework for Conditional Sailing.
That's a fancy way of saying the return to cruising has begun!
If you and your family are me and mine, you're among the 30+ million passengers who enjoy a cruise vacation every year. That means any step toward a return to sailing is a very welcome bit of news.
The CDC's framework isn't necessarily complex, but it is more a set of requirements and not a step by step guide for cruise lines to follow. Safety and the preservation of human life has been set as the number one priority for any responsible return.
That means the CDC and other bodies have listened to the nearly 13,000 comments received by the public and within the industry, alongside other considerations, and set goals for the cruise industry to achieve in order to obtain the privilege to sail in US waters and then maintain that privilege.
Some facets are obvious, such as the need for passengers to wear masks and to apply social distancing measures on board. Others aren't so straightforward or may even be open to interpretation, in my mind.
Individual cruise lines must also run successful simulated itineraries, with clear guidance only set for who may or may not be involved as passengers during these earliest voyages or how they're to be communicated.
A return to cruising was never going to be as simple as flipping a switch and filling ships. My gut tells me that it will be another 30-90 days before the general public will be boarding a ship. I feel that this new framework is a positive step and that it will take time to refine best practices for the safe return of cruising in the US.
I look forward to getting it right together, you should look forward to another insightful update soon. If you've got a question about the process, an idea of your own to share, or a concern about your plans for an upcoming cruise vacation, please do ask!