The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finally issued Friday the next phase of its Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, the guidance that will lead to getting cruise ships sailing again in U.S. waters.
The initial conditional sailing order came out in late October, and cruise operators have been waiting for further guidance since.
Recent calls by the cruise industry and other segments of the travel industry have urged the CDC not to wait any longer to hasten cruising’s U.S. return. Cruise ships have been unable to sail in U.S. waters for more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic despite voyages elsewhere around the globe.
In an announcement late Friday, the CDC said the second phase of the order will include trial voyages to practice new COVID-19 operational procedures with volunteers before sailing with paying passengers.
Fully vaccinated against COVID-19? CDC says it’s safe to travel but still recommends staying home
The CDC update, which is described in a news release as “technical guidance,” includes a requirement to increase cruise COVID-19 reporting frequency to daily. It also updates a color-coding system used to classify ships related to COVID-19 and addresses routine testing of crew based on a ship’s color.
It also further clarifies lab parameters and COVID-19 testing options.
What it doesn’t do is offer clarity on when cruise ships can start sailing again in U.S. waters again.
“Cruising safely and responsibly during a…