The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it has extended a no-sail order for cruise ships until Oct. 31. It was originally set to expire Wednesday.
"The continued spread of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, risk of resurgence in countries that have suppressed transmission, ongoing concerns related to restarting of cruising internationally, and need for additional time to assess industry measures to control potential SARS-CoV-2 transmission on board cruise ships with passengers without burdening public health, support continuation of the No Sail Order at this time," a Wednesday statement from the CDC said, in part.
The order is the reason many in the cruise industry have not been able to work. That’s been the case for union worker Andrew Allison.
“Since the pandemic started, we're in limbo pretty much the whole time," Allison said. "We had nothing to look forward to. They'll put a date. Then, they’ll push a date. They’ll put a date. Then, they’ll push a date.”
The Cruise Lines International Association’s voluntary suspension also ends on Oct. 31.
“At least we'll have a date, you know. We'll know something and that’s all we're asking for,” said Allison. "We just want to know exactly what it is that is going to happen so we can prepare ourselves and our family.”
VIcky Garcia is the COO and co-owner of Cruise Planners, an American Express travel representative based in Coral Springs.
“As an industry, we're looking at implementing responsible and safe return to operations,” said Garcia. “The CDC keeps picking on the cruise industry. However, resorts, hotels, theme parks, restaurants, airlines have not been having to defend their safe return to business to this level as the cruise industry has been.”
Garcia said there is pent-up demand for travel, but it's hard to know exactly when ships will sail and what their destinations will be.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez was pushing for the order to expire, pointing to several new safety protocols being put in place in the industry.
In extending the no-sail order, the CDC said that from March 1 through Sept. 29, data shows at least 3,689 COVID-19 or "COVID-like illness cases" on cruise ships in U.S. waters, and 41 reported deaths.
"We recognize these numbers are likely incomplete and an underestimate," the CDC said in Wednesday's statement.