(Updated 1:10 3 p.m. EDT) -- Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has launched a grassroots initiative aimed at applying political pressure to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in order to allow it to begin operating cruises from the United States.
The company is encouraging past guests, travel advisers and other industry stakeholders to contact their senators and members of congress to encourage a safe and healthy restart to domestic cruise operations within the United States -- and is providing a convenient way to do so.
Through its social media pages on Facebook and Twitter, NCLH brands are making it easy for consumers to get in touch with their elected representatives to tell them they'd like cruising to resume within the United States.
U.S.-based cruisers can find NCLH's call-to-action on its social media pages:
Respondents can click on a hyperlink (or text to their phone) and fill in a short form that includes their name, address and ZIP code. The online portal will then generate an email to the relevant government officials on their behalf urging for cruising to resume.
Respondents can modify the text box to include a more personalized message. The standard message reads, "I am ready to start cruising again. Cruises are occurring successfully around the globe already without major issues. Please let us enjoy cruising as soon as possible."
This campaign is open only to residents of the United States.
The Cruise Lines International Association, the governing body that represents most of the world's cruise fleet, has a similar service set up as part of its CLIA Action Center. All respondents need to do is fill out their contact information, and an email to the relevant elected official will be sent on their behalf.
Other cruise lines have joined in the movement as well. On April 9, both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises launched similar initiatives, sending emails to past passengers in the U.S. urging them to "call, email and tweet your Senators and U.S. Representatives in support of lifting the CDC’s Conditional Sail Order (CSO) and allowing healthy cruising to resume from the U.S. by the beginning of July 2021".
Struggle to Restart U.S. Operations
Just days ago, NCLH president and CEO Frank Del Rio petitioned CDC Director Rochelle Walensky for a restart of cruise operations in July for only vaccinated passengers and crew from domestic U.S. homeports.
The CDC did not respond publicly to Del Rio's letter. The CDC has prohibited nearly all cruise operations within the United States since March 2020.
Cruising has been at a standstill for the past 13 months within the United States as the CDC has provided little guidance, according to cruise lines, over its Framework for Conditional Sailing that was originally supposed to provide a roadmap for the safe resumption of domestic cruises.
That framework was issued last fall. Additional guidance and technical instructions to the cruise industry didn't take place until last week, and the requirements -- such as not using terminals, gangways and check-in facilities for 12 full hours after one set of passengers passes through -- prompted the industry's most vocal backlash as tourism opens up throughout the United States.
On April 10, Florida State Attorney General Ashley Moody made good on her threat to sue the CDC in order to restart domestic cruise operations.
In the meantime, multiple cruise lines -- including Norwegian -- have made plans to homeport their vessels elsewhere this summer, favoring homeports in Europe and the Caribbean that have welcomed cruise operators and their health and safety protocols, many of which include mandatory vaccinations against COVID-19 for both passengers and crew.