This week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a letter to the cruise industry responding to many of the industry’s concerns and reiterating that cruises from US ports may be feasible by mid-summer. In the letter, the CDC outlines pathways for restoring cruises, including minimum levels of crew and passenger immunization levels in addition to other elements of the existing Conditional Sailing Order, including enhanced medical facilities, protocols, and arrangements for medical care and quarantine. The shift in approach by the CDC was generally viewed positively and an effort to deescalate tensions associated with lawsuits filed by the states of Florida and Alaska.
On Thursday, the US Senate blocked consideration of a waiver that would allow foreign-flagged ships to call on Alaskan ports this summer. The Passenger Vessel Services Act aims to protect the domestic shipping industry and requires Alaska-bound foreign-flagged cruise ships to stop in Canada. With Canada’s ports closed to cruise ships though to next February due to COVID-19 concerns, the law effectively prevents Alaska’s cruise season from going forward. Many cruise and tourism industry interests in Canada remain concerned that Canada is not doing enough to plan for the eventual resumption of cruises when it is safe to do so, especially in light of the recent developments in the US.