The British flag isn’t the only flag that adorns a cruise ship. Norwegian Cruise Line’s U.S.-flagged, Hawaii-based Pride of America has a stylized stars-and-stripes across its hull. (Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will extend its “no-sail” order for the U.S. cruise industry through Oct. 31, a person familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly told USA TODAY.
The CDC’s previous order had been scheduled to expire Sept. 30 after extensions to the original mid-March order in April and again in July.
The CDC requested that the order be extended to February 15, but compromised with the White House Task Force to extend until Oct. 31 four days before the Nov. 3 election.
USA TODAY has reached out to White House officials for additional information.
On Tuesday night, Axios reported that CDC Director Robert Redfield was overruled in the White House Situation Room regarding a Feb. 15 extension.
U.S. COVID-19 daily cases are down from a high in July but continue to exceed those of most other countries around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has logged nearly 7 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 200,000 deaths.
Cruise industry voluntarily suspended US operations until Nov. 1, but that could change
In August, Cruise Lines International Association, the major trade organization for oceangoing cruise lines, announced its member lines would not sail in U.S. waters through Oct. 31.
The trade organization’s member lines carry 95% of the world’s ocean-going cruisers. Like the CDC’s order, the directive applies to vessels that can carry 250 or more passengers.
“We believe it is prudent at this time to voluntarily extend the suspension of U.S. oceangoing cruise operations to Oct. 31,” CLIA said in a statement provided by Bari Golin-Blaugrund, senior director of strategic communications.
But the extension came with caveats. The restart date, Nov. 1, wasn’t set in stone. The organization said at the time it would continually evaluate the situation and would announce whether modifications would be necessary. If conditions in the U.S. change to allow short, modified sailings, CLIA said it would consider an earlier restart.
Cruise companies are preparing to sail
Ahead of the CDC’s announcement, which is officially expected Wednesday,CLIA announced Monday it would implement new core elements mandatory on member ships. Those include mandating crew and passenger testing, mask wearing, enhanced cruise ship ventilation, stringent response procedures and shore excursion protocols to make it safe to sail during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CLIA worked with cruise lines citing recommendations from Royal Caribbean and Norwegian’s “Healthy Sail Panel,” Carnival Corp.’s independent experts and from MSC’s Blue Ribbon group. The group also examined sailings that proved safe with new rules enforced on board in Europe on lines including MSC Cruises, Costa Cruises, Seadream, Ponant and TUI, among others.
“Based on what we are seeing in Europe, and following months of collaboration with leading public health experts, scientists, and governments, we are confident that these measures will