No-Sail Order Lifted

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

A New Reality

I am sure you saw it; how could you miss it!!!  Last week in the United States, the Center for Disease Control lifted the “no-sail’ order for cruise ships.  Oh, happy days!!!

Is it time to pack yet?!?

But what, exactly, does this mean?  Can we make our way to a port tomorrow and sail off to adventure? 

I’m ready. How about you? Don’t you just feel it’s time to go somewhere, anywhere, right now!!!
Oh yeah, me too!!!

Well no, not so fast. This is only the beginning of a process.

This is our emotional baggage after being told, once again, “Nowhere to go. Be patient!!! They just fall apart.

Let’s take a look at the CDC “Framework for Resuming Safe and Responsible Cruise Passenger Operations”:  it’s a four-stage plan…..

 Lab Testing:  Although the 40-page document does not specifically state cruise ships have testing labs on board, it does require all crew and passengers be tested prior to embarkation and before disembarkation which could necessitate a contract with shoreside facilities.  Additionally, cruise lines are required to have agreements with “health care entities” for evacuation, onshore hospitalization, and quarantine of crew or passengers if ever in need of care. 

 

We’ve had occasion to visit the onboard medical facilities. They are small. But surely, the cruise lines could create a testing and treatment facility if required.

Simulated Voyages:  Now this is a really, really interesting requirement.  Cruise ships must test and prove the safety of their operational protocols for mitigating the risk of Covid-19.  They will do this by conducting “simulated voyages” with volunteers on board (obviously the crew but, more interestingly, passengers).  Volunteers are already lining up in eager anticipation!!!  These simulations may take place in port or on short sea excursions and must include simulations of:  terminal check-in and post-cruise disembarkation, dining and entertainment venues, evacuation procedures, and Covid-19 protocols (sanitizing, masks, social distancing, hand-washing).  And then…..the protocols in case of infection:  isolation rooms, quarantine procedures, transfer of infected patients to medical facilities onboard or onshore.  This is where pre-established contracts and agreements would come into play.  Sounds complicated doesn’t it???  You can see why simulations are necessary!!!

         

We will no longer see crowds waiting to check in at the terminal. Arrival to the terminal will be time-staggered and undoubtedly take a very long time. No more early check-in and up to lunch in the Lido!!!
On the contrary, we will wait for the results of covid testing before being allowed onboard!!!
And speaking of the Lido, no one will be allowed to serve themselves anymore. You know the drill.
You won’t be seeing this anymore!!!
All those crowds for meals, trivia, crafts, lectures, and such will be socially distanced, masked and with sterile hands!!!
Shore excursions will be different with social distancing.
No crowding in the tender.
Shore excursions will be totally controlled by the excursions team. The islands owned by cruise lines will become more important while tours will be carefully escorted to limit contacts.
We can count on extended stays at the company owned islands in the Caribbean.
But this kind of crowding will not be happening!!! At least, the private islands will allow for freedom of movement and choice of activity.
The Covid version of shore excursions will be different. No longer will independent touring be allowed; only sponsored and escorted ships’ tours!!!
Even disembarkation will be different–actually more so. Covid testing will be required before leaving the ship with a negative result in hand. This will take time. It is proposed, the process could take more that 24 hours to complete.

Certification:  Upon completion of the simulated voyage, the ship will submit an after-action report assessing any deficiencies and their plans to correct them.  The CDC reviews this and most likely will assign a rating using the currently established color-coding system.  A green rating will lead to a Conditional Sailing Certificate. 

Return to Service comes after the Conditional Sailing Certificate is awarded.  The cruises will be limited to a maximum of 7 days.  It is unclear at this time if passengers will be allowed to book back-to-back cruises.  Do you suppose the cruises will wind up going to the Caribbean where so many cruise lines own private islands???  It will be interesting to see where the cruise ships will be welcome.  Many ports have already opened to tourism but there are many that have not!!!  And of course, those agreements for testing, hospitalization, and quarantine must be in place!!!  In addition, an agreement between cruise lines must be reached to govern the number of ships visiting a port at the same time.

BUT WAIT, STOP THE PRESSES, THERE’S MORE!!!

Yesterday, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals and BioNTech announced: 

THEY HAVE DEVELOPED A VACCINE FOR COVID-19!!!

It is 90% effective!!!

It will hit the distribution system before the end of this month.

Can normalcy be far behind???

Here’s to the Old Reality!!!! May it soon return.

4 thoughts on “No-Sail Order Lifted”

  1. Ellen and I will wait until late 2021 to resume our cruising. Great news on the vaccine, however, to be effective, a majority of the population must be vaccinated. Too many “non vaccers” still out there.

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  2. Ah, the photos! The ideas! And there is a HAL ship!
    I am ready, past ready, but cannot seriously wrap my mind around the situation improving enough to sail away, anywhere, for some time yet.
    Such a great post:) Looking forward to all the coming news from the trials, etc. We will have to decide on some cruises to book with our FCCs soon. With rumours of no cruises over 7 days allowed from US ports for us it will be Alaska, which is a big favourite, so we’ll book some and hope by summer it will all work. With Vancouver as homeport we think this makes the most sense.
    What cruises are you considering? Anything out of Florida? You would have much to choose form!

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