US cruise lines push CDC to open ports


The cruise ship the Norwegian Jewel sits near dozens of container ships off the coast of Long Beach, California, US, Feb 25, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

How does a cruise line conduct "simulated voyages" with volunteer passengers?

That's one of the rules from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that US cruise lines say are either indecipherable or impractical.

"I refer to it as the 'impossible-to-sail order' because no business could operate profitably," Captain John Murray, Port Canaveral's CEO, told The Wall Street Journal.

In October 2020, the CDC lifted its no-sail order for US cruise ships and replaced it with its "Framework for Conditional Sailing Order'', a compilation of protocols — including the simulated voyages regulation — needed for cruising to resume again.

A trade group representing most of the world's cruise lines is pressing the CDC to allow ships to start sailing again from American ports by early July, calling the US cruise ban "outdated".

"The lack of any action by the CDC has effectively banned all sailings in the largest cruise market in the world," the Cruise Lines International Association said in a statement Wednesday. The group said a July restart would bring the industry in line with President Joe Biden's goal of "getting the nation closer to normal" by the Fourth of July.

Last week, the mayor of Miami-Dade County, which boasts the world's busiest cruise port, last week urged the CDC to work on a plan to restart cruises by July 4.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis threatened to file a lawsuit if the CDC doesn't allow US-based cruising to resume by summer. "Is it OK for the government to just idle an industry for a year?" the Republican governor said. He said people now need to decide for themselves what they are willing to risk.

Lines have resumed operations in other parts of the world. They are going around the CDC to countries that are more hospitable to cruising — and outside CDC's jurisdiction — including Europe, Asia and the South Pacific. A few have announced plans to cater to North Americans from Caribbean ports.

Since starting again, nearly 400,000 passengers have sailed in more than 10 markets with safety measures such as testing, mask-wearing and distancing in place, the cruise line association said. Based on public reports that the group tracks, it said there have been fewer than 50 reported coronavirus cases.

Most US cruise lines have canceled sailings from the United States through the end of May or June, while the industry is pressuring the CDC to let US cruises start again.

But the CDC, which said it is working on detailed instructions for cruise lines to return to service, has rebuffed that request. In a statement, CDC spokeswoman Caitlin Shockey said the conditional sailing order remains in effect until Nov 1. "Returning to passenger cruising is a phased approach to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19,'' she said. "Details for the next phase of the [order] are currently under interagency review."

The closure of US ports has been costly.

Carnival Corp told investors in February that it expected to spend an average of $600 million in cash a month just to keep vessels maintained, sustain corporate operations and invest in preparations to return to sea. Without CDC direction, cruise lines can't begin the long process of implementing safety measures and recalling thousands of workers from around the world, industry officials said.

The CDC's hesitancy may in part reflect the cruise industry's troubles at the beginning of the pandemic. US ports refused entry to ships with passengers sick with COVID-19, and giant vessels were stuck at sea.

"I hate to speculate, but I think CDC looks at it and feels like, 'Is this a risk we really need to take?'" said Brian Salerno, senior vice-president of global maritime policy at Cruise Lines International Association, the cruise industry's main trade group. "To have an industry sidelined like this, based on a bad perception, is a lot to ask."

The pandemic wiped out, at least temporarily, what was a growth industry. In 2019, about 14 million cruise-goers departed from the US, generating a record $55.5 billion for the US economy and supporting more than 436,000 American jobs, according to the cruise lines association.

With revenue deeply depressed over the course of 2020, the companies raised cash with huge bond and stock issues, according to industry analysts. They also have aggressively pared expenses, furloughed workers and in some cases sold off older, less-efficient ships, which aren't as profitable to operate.

Cruise-related businesses, including ports, say they have been trying to call Washington's attention to their plight over the past year, pressing lawmakers and administration officials.

Unions representing port workers on both coasts say workers have lost hundreds of thousands of hours since the pandemic hit.

As the US cruise line industry looks to restart, several lines have started announcing vaccination requirements for guests and crew members.

Royal Caribbean announced recently that it will begin a handful of vaccine-mandated sailings out of the Bahamas in June. Those cruises, scheduled to run through August, will be available to "adult guests fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and those under age 18 with negative test results", the company said. Royal Caribbean said that the crews on those vessels will be vaccinated as well.

2021年2月25日,在美国加州长滩海岸,游轮“挪威宝石”号停靠在几十艘集装箱船附近。[图片/机构]

邮轮如何与志愿乘客进行“模拟航行”?


这是疾病控制和预防中心(CDC)的规则之一,美国邮轮公司表示,这些规则要么无法解读,要么不切实际。


卡纳维拉尔港首席执行官约翰·默里船长对《华尔街日报》表示:“我称之为‘不可能开航的订单’,因为任何企业都无法盈利。”。


2020年10月,疾控中心取消了对美国游轮的禁航令,代之以“有条件航行令框架”,这是巡航恢复所需的协议汇编——包括模拟航行条例。


一个代表世界上大多数邮轮公司的贸易团体正在向疾控中心施压,要求其允许船只在7月初再次从美国港口启航,称美国的邮轮禁令“过时”。


邮轮国际协会周三在一份声明中表示:“疾控中心缺乏任何行动,这实际上禁止了世界上最大邮轮市场的所有航班。”该组织表示,7月份的重启将使该行业符合乔·拜登总统在7月4日之前“使国家更接近正常”的目标。


上周,拥有世界上最繁忙邮轮港口的迈阿密戴德县市长上周敦促疾控中心制定一项计划,在7月4日前重启邮轮。


佛罗里达州州长罗恩·德桑蒂斯威胁说,如果疾控中心不允许美国巡航在夏季恢复,他将提起诉讼。“政府只是闲置一个行业一年可以吗?”共和党州长说。他说,人们现在需要自己决定他们愿意冒什么风险。


线路已在世界其他地区恢复运营。他们绕过疾控中心前往更适合巡航的国家——在疾控中心管辖范围之外——包括欧洲、亚洲和南太平洋。一些人已经宣布了从加勒比海港口迎合北美人的计划。


邮轮协会表示,自重新启动以来,近40万名乘客已经在10多个市场航行,并采取了测试、戴口罩和保持距离等安全措施。根据该组织跟踪的公开报告,该组织表示,报告的冠状病毒病例不到50例。


大多数美国邮轮公司已经取消了从美国到5月底或6月底的航班,而行业正在向疾控中心施压,要求让美国邮轮重新开始。

但疾控中心拒绝了这一要求。疾控中心表示,正在为邮轮公司恢复服务制定详细的说明。疾控中心发言人凯特琳·肖基在一份声明中说,有条件的出航令有效期到11月1日。“恢复客运巡航是一个分阶段的方法,以减轻新冠肺炎扩散的风险,”她说[订单]下一阶段的细节目前正在跨部门审查中。"


美国港口的关闭代价高昂。


嘉年华公司(Carnival Corp)今年2月告诉投资者,它预计每月平均支出6亿美元现金,仅用于船只维护、维持企业运营和投资准备重返大海。行业官员表示,没有疾控中心的指导,邮轮公司无法开始实施安全措施和召回全球数千名工人的漫长过程。


疾病预防控制中心的犹豫可能部分反映了大流行开始时邮轮行业的问题。美国港口拒绝载有患新冠肺炎病乘客的船只进入,巨型船只被困在海上。


“我不喜欢猜测,但我认为疾控中心看着它,会觉得‘这真的是我们需要冒的风险吗?’邮轮行业的主要贸易集团邮轮国际协会全球海事政策高级副总裁布莱恩·萨勒诺说。“基于一种不好的看法,让一个行业像这样被边缘化,这是一个很大的要求。”


这场流行病至少暂时摧毁了增长型产业。根据邮轮协会的数据,2019年,约有1400万邮轮游客离开美国,为美国经济创造了创纪录的555亿美元,支持了超过43.6万个美国就业岗位。


行业分析师表示,由于2020年营收严重低迷,这些公司通过发行巨额债券和股票筹集了现金。他们还大幅削减开支,让工人休假,在某些情况下卖掉老旧、效率较低的船只,这些船只的运营利润并不高。


包括港口在内的邮轮相关企业表示,在过去一年里,它们一直试图让华盛顿关注它们的困境,向立法者和政府官员施压。


代表两岸港口工人的工会表示,自疫情爆发以来,工人们已经损失了数十万小时。


随着美国邮轮行业期待重启,几家邮轮公司已经开始宣布对游客和船员的疫苗接种要求。


皇家加勒比海最近宣布,它将于6月份开始从巴哈马群岛出发,进行一些疫苗授权的航行。该公司表示,这些巡航定于8月进行,将向“接种了新冠肺炎疫苗的成年游客和检测结果呈阴性的18岁以下游客”开放。皇家加勒比表示,这些船只上的船员也将接种疫苗。


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