Cruise Line CEOs met with the White House Covid team and urged that U.S. crossings resume
Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Sea cruise ship docks in Miami, Florida, in Port Miami on March 2, 2021.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
In a meeting with the White House’s Covid Response Team and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CEOs of Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean spoke out in favor of replacing the government’s gradual approach to US ports and create a clear roadmap that will allow crossings to resume this summer, sources in the CNBC area told.
Earlier this month, the CDC updated their conditional sail order framework. However, the agency has not yet set a date on which operators can resume voyages from American ports.
The CEOs of the virtual meeting on Monday made it clear to U.S. health officials that by requiring vaccinations and negative Covid tests for everyone on board, passengers could sail safely, the sources said. One participant who did not wish to be identified described the meeting as “encouraging”.
A spokesman for the Cruise Lines International Association trade group told CNBC, “For the first time, industry leaders have been able to highlight the cruise community’s unique ability to implement and accurately manage health protocols that incorporate rigorous reviews, tests, prevention, detection, and monitoring and response procedures all in one controlled environment throughout the cruise experience. ”
The time for the meeting this week has come as communication between the cruise lines and the US health authorities has been tense and politicians on both sides have also exerted pressure.
On Thursday afternoon, Norwegian Cruise Line reiterated its request to the CDC to allow the company to resume cruising from US ports on July 4th. “I continue to await further discussions with the CDC and respectfully request an immediate response to my written proposal to resume cruising in July so we can join America’s national reopening,” CEO Frank Del Rio said in the statement .
Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., And Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., Said in a statement Thursday that they wrote a letter to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky sent and asked her to keep the sailing order.
On Tuesday, Florida GOP Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and Senator Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, announced a bill aimed at overwriting the CDC’s current framework for cruise ship return to sea. The economies in Florida and Alaska are feeling the effects after more than a year without cruising. The cruise was discussed later on Tuesday at the first hearing of a new Senate Travel and Tourism subcommittee.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced last week that the state would file a lawsuit against the CDC. He demanded that cruise ships be allowed to sail again immediately.
A former tour operator told CNBC that the cruise lines are not a priority after the March 2020 event, when several cruise lines were stranded at sea and the ports did not let them in.
CNBC has approached the CDC and the White House for comment and received no response.