CLIA SHUTS DOWN CRUISES UNTIL 2021
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents about 95% of the world’s ocean cruise lines, voluntarily shut down operations on October 31. The action was taken after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) no-sail order had expired.
The no-sail order was replaced by the public health agency’s new “Framework for Conditional Sailing Order” (see also “Mock Cruises”) which the CDC said introduced a phased approach for the safe and responsible resumption of passenger cruises. However, CLIA chose not to resume operations before 2021.
MOCK CRUISES FOR REAL.
In the first week of November, Royal Caribbean Cruises announced that it would be enlisting volunteers for mock cruises, in order to meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols for resumption of sailing. Over 20,000 volunteers signed in the first 24 hours. Royal Caribbean’s ’simulated voyages’ attracted enthusiastic support from some 100,000 in a week, even before a starting date was announced. The CDC required that every cruise line prove that its health and safety measures, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, were effective. Proof of adherence to the CDC’s ‘Framework for Conditional Sailing’ order required, among other things, that cruise lines run ‘simulated voyages’ that replicate current real-life operating conditions. They were also required to confirm that they met the all the CDC’s requirements for having crew members on board ships, namely that they’ll be regularly tested. The CDC framework also required that passengers are informed in writing that they are participating in a simulation of unproven and untested health and safety protocols; and, that sailing during a pandemic is inherently risky. In addition, that:
• cruise lines do not promise volunteers employment or future reward;
• simulated cruises include standard activities – from dining and entertainment on board to private island shore excursions;
• simulated cruises include “trialling”
(of procedures for passengers testing positive for COVID-19, including quarantine and cabin confinement);
• mock cruises also meet the CDC requirements
for on-board face coverings, hand hygiene and social distancing
• laboratory testing take place for all passengers and crew when they embark and disembark the ship.
‘SEA-DREAM’ – RESTART TERMINATED
Seven passengers and two crew tested positive for COVID-19 on the SeaDream 1 in November forcing an abrupt end to the restart of the SeaDream luxury cruise package. The vessel was forced to seek help from the Barbados Ministry of Health and Wellness. Barbados confirmed the diagnoses; delivered medical care and helped move passengers back to their home countries. The cases came to attention during sailing from Barbados. It was the first Caribbean cruise since no-cruise orders were issued in the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic. SeaDream announced cancellation of the remainder of its itinerary and indicated plans to re-evaluate the idea of guaranteed-safe cruising during the pandemic. The itinerary included Bequia and Canouan Island.
ADOPTED BY UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Countries of the world meeting as the United Nations adopted by consensus on December 1, 2020 a resolution urging all member states to officially designate the world’s seafarers and other maritime personnel as key workers. The resolution was titled “International cooperation to address challenges faced by seafarers as a result of the COVID19 pandemic to support global supply chains”. The General Assembly called upon governments to immediately take steps to facilitate maritime crew changes. The resolution was specific to expediting travel and repatriation efforts and ensuring seafarers access to medical care. It urged governments and stakeholders to implement protocols to ensure safe ship crew changes and travel during the pandemic, as approved by the International Maritime Organization’s Safety Committee. This will allow stranded seafarers to return to their home countries and permit their replacements to join ships.