On Monday, the CDC announced that it would be extending the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) through January 15, 2022.
The original order, set to expire on November 1, 2021, has the same stipulations included in the order issued in October 2020, with minor modifications.
The extension will remain in effect until:
- The expiration of the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ declaration that COVID-19 constitutes a public health emergency, or
- CDC Director rescinds or modifies the order based on specific public health or other considerations, or
- January 15, 2022.
A statement from the CDC said, “After the expiration of the Temporary Extension & Modification of the CSO, CDC intends to transition to a voluntary program, in coordination with cruise ship operators and other stakeholders, to assist the cruise ship industry to detect, mitigate, and control the spread of COVID-19 onboard cruise ships.”
The Framework for Conditional Sailing Order
Issued on October 30, 2020, The Framework for Conditional Sailing Order was a carry-over from the No Sail Order issued in March 2020. The order applies to all foreign-flagged vessels that carry over 250 guests.
However, unlike the No Sail Order, the Conditional Sailing Order was designed to get cruise ships sailing again using two separate pathways. The first saw cruise operators sailing with fully-vaccinated guests.
The second option was for ships sailing with both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests, requiring that they conduct simulated voyages overseen and graded by the CDC. After getting the green light from the agency, the cruise ship could sail with paying passengers.
At the restart, some cruise lines like Norwegian Cruise Line Holding brands (Norwegian, Regent and Oceania Cruises) took a strong stance, saying they would only allow vaccinated guests to sail, while Royal Caribbean opted for a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated guests.
Carnival Cruise Line fell on the side of vaccinated sailings only, operating with 95 percent or more of the guests on board fully vaccinated while others have to apply for an exemption.
Now, most North American cruise lines require the vaccination if eligible (12 years and up). Those not eligible to be vaccinated must get approval from the cruise line before sailing and are required to test negative at the pier before embarking.
A lawsuit earlier this year against the CDC from the state of Florida opened the dialogue between cruise operators and the agency.
As of July 23, 2021, the CSO and accompanying measures, such as technical instructions, are non-binding recommendations for cruise ships arriving in, located within, or departing from a port in Florida.
The first major cruise ship to sail from the United States was Celebrity Edge on June 26.