The Norwegian Cruise Line is seeking permission to resume trips from US ports on July 4, requiring passengers and crew members to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at least two weeks before the trip. The Miami company said its precautions go well beyond those of other segments in the travel and leisure industry that have already reopened, including airlines, hotel, restaurants, and sporting events. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings plans to begin US sailings at 60% of capacity and raise that to 80% in August and 100% in September, the AP reports. The company's shares jumped 7.2% Monday. CEO Frank Del Rio detailed the request in a letter to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has blocked cruise ships from US ports with a no-sail order since March 2020, after outbreaks on ships around the world. Walensky has urged caution and said she would "advocate against general travel overall," given the rising number of coronavirus infections.
The cruise industry has become more frustrated with the CDC in the past few weeks, per the Washington Post, especially since the agency's guidance was updated Friday. The CDC decreed US travel for vaccinated people to be low risk and eased the rules even as it specified more requirements for cruise ships to meet, a "conditional sailing order." An industry group has said the CDC restrictions are outdated, per the Post. "I'd like to hear an argument why we couldn't sail," Del Rio said. "If everyone on board is vaccinated and following the protocols, there is absolutely no need for the conditional sail order to exist as it is known today." The CDC said Monday that it will work with the industry but said "cruising safely and responsibly during a global pandemic is difficult," especially with concern over new variants of COVID-19.
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