(12:55 p.m. EST) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave cruise lines some additional guidance on how to recrew their ships for a restart, following the issuance of its new Framework for Conditional Sailing that was released October 30.
Looking at the requirements, they seem to be a repackaging of technical instructions that the agency issued to cruise lines back in June, in an effort to provide operators with additional guidance when repatriating crew was the main issue.
for crew relies heavily on a color-coded chart system, by which the CDC will rank vessels with either a red, yellow or green status depending on their COVID-19 infection and recovery rate.
Only green-status vessels will be given the go-ahead to embark passengers.
Some of the CDC's requirements put onerous requirements on the ship's crew. In all categories but green, crew are prohibited from leaving their cabins when not on duty, and all crew facilities (crew bar, gym, etc.) are closed. The CDC also stipulates that in-person meetings and employee training seminars -- a required step in any crew joining for the first time or re-joining the vessel -- are to be cancelled.
When re-joining a vessel, crew members are required to take specific refresher courses that can include crowd control management, workplace management, hazard training like fire extinguisher operation; watertight door and fire door familiarization.
Crew must also participate in muster drills as a condition of international maritime law.
Operators Have Until December 29 To Implement Onboard Testing
Under the CDC's repackaged guidance for cruise ship crew, all vessels that have been in U.S. waters have until December 29, 2020 to implement COVID-19 testing capabilities for crew and passengers.
Vessels that have been outside of U.S. jurisdiction for the duration of the No-Sail Order will be required to, in the CDC's words, implement a number of requests in order to trigger a 60-day waiting period that "will begin upon: (1) CDC's confirming to the cruise ship operator in writing that the operator has a complete and accurate NSO No-Sail Order response plan, including having submitted to CDC a signed Acknowledgment of No Sail Order Response Plan Completeness and Accuracy; and (2) submission of the EDC Electronic Data Collection form for the 28 days preceding the cruise ship's expected arrival in U.S. waters."
If that sounds complex, that's because it is.
Under the current guidance, cruise operators have until December 29 to collect COVID-19 PCR tests for all crew onboard. Operators then have to arrange for the transportation and testing of those specimens at a laboratory on-shore, which has to be approved and certified by the CDC beforehand.
Those tests then have to be processed. If any are positive, ships go into "Red" status.
Over 30 Vessels Currently have Green Status
On the positive side, the CDC guidance means that cruise lines operators can now get started on crewing up any vessels they intend to place into service from U.S. homeports.
There's more good news. The CDC's table of ship status for vessels in U.S. jurisdiction shows a total of 33 ships with "Green" status for crew changes as of the CDC's November 3, 2020 update (the list can be
, and is updated on Tuesdays).
Vessels from Bahamas Paradise, Celebrity, Disney Cruise Line, MSC, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania, and Royal Caribbean all have green status, save for Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, which is red.
"If a cruise line is not listed, it means the cruise line is not operating and does not plan to operate any of its ships in U.S. waters during the period of the No Sail Order," states the CDC.
There are still numerous unanswered questions surrounding the CDC's new Framework for Conditional Sailing, including what will be required of passengers and crew; how the required "simulated voyages" and associated volunteers will be handled; and even questions surrounding what happens to repositioning cruises longer than seven days or what requirements back-to-back cruisers will face.
Cruise Critic will continue to cover the CDC directives and what they mean for cruise passengers, as more information becomes available.