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Cruise lines urge CDC to allow sailings from U.S. ports to resume in early July

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Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Sea cruise ship is docked at PortMiami on March 2, 2021 in Miami, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

The trade group for the world’s biggest cruise lines on Wednesday sent a strongly worded letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, urging health officials to allow a phased-in resumption of sailings from U.S. ports in early July.

In the letter, Cruise Lines International Association President Kelly Craighead argues the CDC’s stance does not reflect the current conditions nor the accelerated rollout of Covid vaccines.

Cruise lines said the early-July timeframe is in line with President Joe Biden‘s timeline for when the U.S. will be “closer to normal.” In his first primetime address to the nation as president, Biden said earlier this month that Americans should be able to gather in person with their friends and loved ones in small groups to celebrate the Fourth of July.

With hotels, casinos and airlines starting to see a recovery in bookings, most cruise ships remain idle, waiting for the CDC to make a decision on when to let U.S. sailings resume. It’s now been over 12 months since the U.S. cruise lines suspended all sailings due to Covid.

“Cruise lines should be treated the same as other travel, tourism, hospitality, and entertainment sectors,” CLIA’s Craighead said.

While some cruises have resumed some sailings in Europe and Asia, the U.S. still represents the largest market, and it’s where the industry derives a majority of its profits.

Some cruise operators have been looking at alternative options to welcome customers back on board and not miss out on the crucial summer sailing season.

Royal Caribbean announced two new sailings — one from its new home port of Nassau, Bahamas and another from Bermuda. Both cruises will set sail this June and will not stop at any U.S. ports. Instead, Royal Caribbean will take advantage of its private island — Perfect Day CocoCay and also stop at Cozumel, Mexico.

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