The White House blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s attempt to extend its “No-Sail Order” on cruise ships in U.S. waters until next year, according to reports.
The order, which prevents “cruise ships with the capacity to carry at least 250 passengers in waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction” from sailing, has been in effect since March, and extended multiple times, was set to expire on Thursday. While Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, pushed to once again extend it until February 2021, he was overruled, Axios first reported, citing a conversation in the White House Situation Room.
Instead, per Axios, the Trump administration plans to extend the order to October 31 — a date that aligns with the decision by the Cruise Lines International Association to postpone ocean sailings in U.S. waters until at least November. The CLIA represents major cruise lines around the world.
Republican politicians in Florida, where a large contingent of the U.S. cruise industry is based, and cruise industry lobbyists have called for an end to the “No-Sail Order,” The New York Times reported. The White House denied the move was political, Axios noted.
“The president, the vice president, and the task force follow the science and data to implement policies that protect the public health and also facilitate the safe reopening of our country,” White House deputy press secretary Brian Morgenstern told Axios. “It is not about politics. It is about saving lives.”
While cruise ships may be able to launch in November, several lines have suspended sailings into next year, including Carnival Cruise Line, which canceled cruises until the spring and predicted it won’t see full passenger capacity until 2022, and Princess Cruises, which has canceled two of its 2021 itineraries.
When cruises do resume, masks will be mandatory and all passengers and crew will be tested for COVID-19 before getting on board, CLIA mandated last month. Cruise ships will also have to designate cabins for isolation in case an outbreak does occur.
In addition, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line submitted their health and safety recommendations to the CDC earlier this month, much of which overlapped with CLIA’s, including screening guests and crew for potential COVID-19 infections before embarkation.
Cruising has been on hold in the U.S., but sailings have already resumed in Europe and Taiwan. While largely successful, it has not been without some onboard outbreaks of the coronavirus.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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