There’s growing optimism that cruises from the US may soon resume as momentum builds toward approval from authorities for a restart to the industry following a conference call between cruise line executives and US Vice President Mike Pence.
The Vice President hosted a conference call with the CEOs of Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises and Disney to discuss the cruise industry’s proposal to resume operations in the US out of Port Canaveral and Miami.
The proposal will now be presented to the coronavirus task force in order to provide a recommendation to US President Donald Trump on whether to extend the CDC’s No Sail Order, which expires on October 31st.
Cruise Executives on the Call:
Arnold Donald (CEO, Carnival Corporation)
Frank Del Rio (President & CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings)
Richard Fain (Chairman & CEO, Royal Caribbean Group)
Thomas Malzoum (President, Disney Signature Experience)
Pierfrancesco Vago (Executive Chairman, MSC Cruises)
It is widely anticipated that the No Sail Order will either be withdrawn or only temporarily extended as the White House has previously pushed to get the cruise industry restarted in the US, and earlier this month over-ruled a request by the CDC to extend the No Sail Order into 2021.
However, factors such as COVID-19 cases in Florida and the progress of the industry restarting in Europe and Asia, will need to be taken into account.
Costa Cruises and MSC Cruises have both returned to service in a limited capacity in Europe, with no COVID-19 cases reported aboard any of their cruise ships thus far.
In addition to the cruise line executives and Pence, the call was also joined by CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield; Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar; and former Utah Governor and HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt of the Healthy Sail Panel.
According to a statement, Pence gave a brief overview of the current state of the No Sail Order and highlighted the shared goal of reopening the maritime economy, with a focus on the cruise industry safely sailing again.
HHS Secretary Azar and CDC Director Redfield welcomed the work that produced the Healthy Sail Panel’s 74 recommendations, and noted the US government’s support of the industry “to safely and responsibly sail again”.
However, they cautioned that the “cruise industry would have to backstop their venture to resume operations,” according to a statement.
The industry executives thanked the Trump Administration for its collaborative approach and support, according to a statement, and stressed that this process and proposal introduces accountability and standards that will ensure cruise ship passengers are in a safe and healthy environment.