On July 29, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Request for Information on the resumption of cruising. Rather than targeting industry professionals, the CDC has made this information process open to anyone -- including regular cruisers.
Until September 21, cruisers can submit their comments to the CDC for consideration on 59 different topics and subtopics about cruise that the CDC would like feedback on. These cover everything from refunds to resumption of cruise policies to whether people from high-risk geographic areas for COVID-19 should be denied boarding.
Of course, in true governmental fashion, submitting comments isn't quite as easy as emailing the CDC. Comments must be made either in writing and mailed in, or by using the U.S. Federal Register's digital portal online.
The process is a little clunky and cumbersome, so we at Cruise Critic have done the heavy lifting for you. Here is our step-by-step guidelines for how to submit comments to the CDC.
For those wondering if they should submit comments to the CDC, the answer is yes. CLIA, the Cruise Lines International Association, is stressing to travel agents the importance of responding.
The same goes for frequent cruisers. You don't have to be a cruise line executive to comment on past experiences onboard, and the more responses the CDC can receive, the better.
Cruise Critic members likely know their favorite cruise line better than the CDC, and these responses will be used to set policy for months, perhaps even years to come. The time to participate is now.
As of this writing, a total of 1,685 comments have been received to-date. You do not have to be a U.S. citizen in order to provide feedback.
First, keep your comments clean. Don't swear or use foul language. Don't type in all caps (it's considered YELLING in the digital world). And take some time to consider what you want to say.
Keep in mind, too, that these comments will be publicly displayed on the U.S. Federal Register.
To craft a better statement, type your comments up in Word (after reading the exact questions the CDC wants answered), or another program with a spell-checker. Then copy and paste that into the required fields on the digital portal (more on that below).
Substantiated, well-thought-out comments are the ones that will make a difference. Refrain from posting political leanings or accusations. Resist going on long-winded tangents about masks, the WHO, or other pandemic-related topics. You may agree or disagree with these things but writing long diatribes will do little to help your comments be seen -- and be taken seriously -- by the CDC.
Punctuation is also helpful to avoid being misunderstood. "Let's eat Grandma" is very different from "Let's eat, Grandma."
Lastly, use paragraphs. No one wants to read a 2,000-word run-on sentence.
Go to the U.S. Federal Register's website here. The Federal Register seems to continually change this hyperlink, so if you find yourself on the site's home page, use the Document ID to search for this page:** CDC-2020-0087-0001**.
A full list of the CDC's questions is provided at the bottom of the online portal. Read through them and decide what to comment on. Don't feel the need to answer all of them; answer the ones that matter to you.
This is where using a computer to type your comments up will come in handy. Once you actually go onto the comment page you will no longer be able to see these questions. Instead, write up your responses in Word while viewing these questions to make things easy -- and to ensure your spelling and grammar are up to par.
Be sure to note the question to which you're responding to. If you're responding to 6a., What arrangements should cruise ship operators have with private companies to transport and obtain medical care shoreside for passengers and crew with severe COVID-19?, note that in the start of your answer.
An example would be: 6a): Based on my past experience…
If you have relevant experience in a related field -- the Navy or merchant marine, a small business, a health care professional -- be sure to note that. Don't forget: "frequent cruiser" also counts as relevant experience.
Above all else, be calm, courteous and concise. Resist the urge to be reactionary. A well-written response is a helpful response.
On the top-left side of the webpage, below the bolded title "RFI Cruise Ship Planning 07.21.2020" is a blue button labeled "Comment." Click that to be taken to the comment page.
You can then write up to 5,000 words in the "Comment" field shown (this is where pre-typing your response in Word helps). If 5,000 words isn't enough, the "Attach Files" box allows you to send in supplementary material in a variety of formats. This could also include photos in JPEG, GIF, TIFF and other image formats.
Once you're finished, scroll down and enter your email address.
Below that, identify as an individual, organization or anonymous. For those clicking "Individual", a box will then expand asking for your contact information. Those clicking "Anonymous" will not be asked for any further information outside of an email address, which must be provided.
The final step is to click the check-box next to the reCAPTCHA button below that says "I'm not a robot."
With that done, click "Submit Comment" to complete the process.
Interested respondents can also choose to print a copy of their comments (in Word or another program) in order to submit their feedback to their local senators and congresspeople. This is particularly meaningful for those respondents who might earn an income, directly or indirectly, from the cruise industry, and who have seen that income decrease or disappear as a result of the CDC's ongoing No-Sail order. Travel agents in particular may wish to consider doing this. Just ensure you format your letter properly and include the relevant Federal Register Docket No. CDC-2020-0087, just in case.
If you don't want to use the Federal Register's online portal, you can mail comments (all of which must have Docket No. CDC-2020-0087 included with them) to the following address: Maritime Unit, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE, MS V18-2, Atlanta, GA 30329.