The grass-roots “Ready, Set, Sail” campaign to resume cruising, launched by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) on March 24, has already generated more than 118,000 messages to federal lawmakers.
More than 38,000 people sent messages through CLIA’s Action Center to all 100 U.S. senators and 435 representatives, as of April 16.
“We have had an overwhelming response from our community … in support of CLIA’s call to lift the CSO and allow sailing to resume from U.S. ports this summer,” a CLIA spokesperson wrote in an email. “It is clear that our voice is being heard!”
Cruising came to a standstill mid-March 2020 and remained under a no-sail order issued by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) until Oct. 30, when the agency issued a “Framework for Continuing Sail Order,” or CSO. That remained in place, with no resumption of cruising or even test cruises, until April 2, 2021, when it issued the second phase of the CSO.
The cruise industry was frustrated by the guidelines.
“The long-awaited instructions issued on April 2 by the CDC continues an outdated, overly complex process for resumption of U.S. cruise operations with no clear timeline or path forward and is at odds with the approach the CDC and governments in other parts of the world apply to all other travel and tourism segments in mitigating the risk of COVID-19,” CLIA states on its Action Center.
“Nearly half a million Americans across the country depend on a functioning cruise industry and are at risk of being excluded from participating in the economic recovery from the pandemic. Those impacted include longshoremen, ground transportation operators, travel agents, and hotel, restaurants, and retail workers, as well as the tens of thousands of businesses that service cruise ships.”
“It is frustrating, that to date, we have yet to receive even an acknowledgment of this proposal,” Del Rio wrote. “I do recognize that you have many important public health issues to tend to and was reticent to even write, however, we strongly believe our proposal should be the model for how the travel and hospitality industry operates in a COVID-19 environment. Our industry supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and contributes billions of dollars to this country’s economy and is certainly deserving of your time and attention.”
Meanwhile, the CDC said in a statement that it will meet with cruise line executives on a regular basis, after an April 12 meeting in which “cruise industry leaders were able to provide input into the phases of the CSO, expressed frustration with the requirements, discussed the incorporation of vaccination requirements into restarting passenger voyages, and expressed the need to establish a working group with industry and CDC to work forward to resume cruising as soon as possible.”
The CDC statement said the objective of the meetings is “to mutually review the top priority issues of the cruise industry to work out implementation details of the CSO, including the impact of vaccines and other scientific developments since the CSO was issued in October 2020. This goal aligns with the desire for the resumption of passenger operations in the United States by mid-summer, expressed by many major cruise ship operators and travelers.”
The meetings will include executives from the cruise industry, the CDC and the Department of Homeland Security.
“CDC is committed to working with the cruise industry and seaport partners to resume cruising following a phased approach required by the CSO,” the CDC statement said.