On September 30, the CDC announced that it would extend the No Sail Order for cruise ships through the end of October. In other words, cruise ships will not be allowed to operate in U.S. waters or dock in U.S. ports through at least October 31. This move is intended to minimize the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks among would-be cruise guests.
In of itself, the No Sail Order is old news – it has been in place since mid-March of this year. However, if the order actually expires at the end of this month, there may be serious implications for U.S. cruise-goers. So, what is the reasoning behind the No Sail Order, and how long will it last?
The Reasoning Behind the No Sail Order
When the No Sail Order first took effect in March, cruise ships had been making national headlines for having rampant COVID-19 outbreaks. The Princess Diamond was one of the most infamous examples of this phenomenon. By the end of that voyage, more than 700 of the ship’s 3,711 passengers and crew members tested positive for coronavirus.
The No Sail Order is a response to the risk of high infection rates and possible deaths on cruise ships. As the CDC noted in its recent announcement, at least 41 deaths have resulted from cruise-related COVID-19 cases in U.S. waters since March 1. Since the pandemic continues to affect U.S. communities, the order has been extended multiple times to reflect the ongoing danger.
Furthermore, as the CDC points out, cruise ships operating in other parts of the world have not proven that they can successfully mitigate COVID-19 risk. Some of these ships have experienced outbreaks in recent months, despite operating at lower-than-usual capacity. As the announcement states:
“Recent outbreaks on cruise ships overseas provide current evidence that cruise ship travel continues to transmit and amplify the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 – even when ships sail at reduced passenger capacities – and would likely spread the infection into U.S. communities if passenger operations were to resume prematurely in the United States.”
How Long Will the No Sail Order Last?
For the moment, the No Sail Order is set to last until November 1. Of course, the order has been extended multiple times in past months, and it could be extended at the last minute again. (The most recent extension was made official just two hours before the order was due to expire at the end of September.)
However, there is reason to anticipate that the order will actually expire at the end of October. According to reporting from Axios, CDC Director Robert Redfield pushed to extend the No Sail Order until February 15, but was overruled by the current administration. The October 31 date is the result of the administration’s decision, and also matches up with the cruise industry’s own ban on U.S. activity until November.
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