Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, a subsidiary of Norwegian Cruise Line Limited, is the first cruise line to opt-in to voluntary public health guidelines. The CDC recommends that passengers not be on board maritime vessels with symptoms for more than 24 hours. This will help ensure that the best possible care can be provided during an outbreak and eliminate any potential spread of illness aboard these ships.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. has become the first major cruise line firm to voluntarily opt-in to the new recommended health and safety requirements, just one day before the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order is set to expire. Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises would all be affected by the news, which was announced on January 14, 2022.
The Norwegian government has agreed to the new guidelines.
Since its inception in early 2021, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Conditional Sailing Order has supervised health and safety regulations, case responses, and passenger and crew checks. That order is set to expire on January 15, 2022, despite many changes as pandemic circumstances have changed over the previous year.
The Conditional Sailing Order will be replaced with voluntary rules that are basically the same as the required order, but loosen certain monitoring procedures and enable some onboard services that were previously forbidden.
For example, self-service eating choices may reopen, and the number of positive COVID-19 instances found aboard before a ship must be inspected will have more freedom.
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Norwegian Cruise Operator Holdings Ltd. is the first cruise line to indicate that it would follow the new optional rules. Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., stated in a news statement on January 14, the day before the voluntary guidelines take effect:
“Our first goal is the health and safety of our visitors, staff, and the communities we visit. Since our return to service in July of last year, we’ve demonstrated this commitment by implementing protocols that go above and beyond what regulatory agencies require, such as 100% vaccination of guests and crew, universal testing of all guests prior to embarkation, and routine testing of all crew.”
Del Rio underlined in his statement that this opt-in will apply to all three of the company’s cruise line brands.
“Further demonstrating our commitment to health and safety, our three brands have opted into the CDC’s voluntary Program, which provides the cruise industry with a set of operating provisions to protect the health and safety of guests and crew, with the expiration of the CDC’s Conditional Sail Order.”
It is not necessary to opt in.
Cruise lines will no longer be required to follow the CDC’s guidelines, but if they do not opt in, their ships will be coded gray on the CDC’s cruise ship color status chart, indicating that they are not being watched and that the CDC is not verifying any health and safety precautions aboard.
Rob Hainer / Shutterstock.com / Rob Hainer / Shutterstock.com / Rob Hainer / Shutterstock.
Confirming that a cruise company follows the CDC’s guidelines may be comforting to potential passengers, and travelers will know what to anticipate while sailing with certain cruise companies.
“By joining the voluntary program, we can assure our guests, crew, travel partners, and other stakeholders that our brands will continue to meet and exceed the CDC’s requirements, providing unrivaled health and safety protocols not found in any other sector of the travel and leisure industry,” Del Rio said.
This statement comes as Norwegian Ship Line has been plagued by many cruise cancellations in recent days, resulting in a considerable reduction in operations for the next few weeks.
Other Lines That Are Likely to Suit
While Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises are the first cruise companies to acknowledge their involvement in the new voluntary rules, it is quite possible that additional cruise lines will follow suit.
This is particularly likely since, since July 2021, the original Conditional Sailing Order has mainly been optional for cruises departing from Florida, thanks to Governor Ron DeSantis’ successful court objections to the CDC’s vaccine regulations. Cruise lines, on the other hand, have continued to follow the CDC’s recommendations despite not being obligated to do so.
Read more: Norwegian Gem Announces Mid-Cruise Cancellation, Returning to New York
In many ways, whether the guidelines are voluntary or mandatory, the prospect of improved health and safety measures onboard cruise ships – such as pre-cruise testing, vaccination requirements, improved air filtration, more frequent sanitizing in public areas, social distancing, and so on – has reassured many passengers as the cruise industry has reopened.