‘Preposterous’ new rules from CDC put summer restart in jeopardy, says top cruise executive
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
The comeback of big-ship cruising out of U.S. ports could be delayed. Again.
So says Frank Del Rio, the president and CEO of the world’s third-largest cruise company, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
Speaking with Wall Street analysts on Thursday to discuss the company’s quarterly earnings, Del Rio suggested new guidelines for cruises issued late Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were a setback for the industry and could result in a longer timeline for a restart out of U.S. ports.
“We need more clarity on whether the numerous and onerous requirements [of the new guidelines] would apply to [all] voyages,” Del Rio said. “But at first glance, it appears the path forward is a bit rockier and a bit steeper than originally expected.”
In recent weeks, cruise executives had become more hopeful that cruising out of U.S. ports could restart by mid-July, citing recent communications with the CDC. The agency has been blocking cruise lines from sailing out of U.S. ports since March 2020, citing worries about the spread of COVID-19.
But Del Rio said he now saw no chance of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings brands resuming cruises out of U.S. ports in July.
As reported late Wednesday by TPG, new CDC requirements for initial cruises out of U.S. ports buried in a lengthy “operations manual” posted on the agency’s website late in the day included a long list of rules that could make it difficult for lines to restart cruising quickly or operate cruises that have any semblance of normalcy.
The requirements included mask-wearing mandates that go far beyond what has become the norm at land-based resorts in the U.S., including a requirement that sunbathers wear masks even when lounging outdoors in bathing suits by pools. This is despite the fact that the CDC also will require each lounge chair on outdoor decks to be separated by 6 feet for social distancing.
As Del Rio noted, the operations manual also called for mask wearing even while eating a meal, with passengers only allowed to dip their masks momentarily for bites.
“In between bites of your meal and in between sips of your beverage, you have to put on your mask, take off your mask,” Del Rio noted with incredulity in his voice. “So nobody should order soup, because your mask might get sloppy. That to me is just preposterous.”
Del Rio said Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings executives had a call scheduled with the CDC later Thursday where he hopes they would get more clarification on the new requirements.
He said he was hoping the CDC only would apply the new rules to cruise ships that sailed out of U.S. ports without a mandate that every passenger and crew member was vaccinated for COVID-19. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has announced all its ships worldwide would impose such a requirement through at least Oct. 31.
“I am disappointed at first read,” Del Rio said of the new CDC guidelines. “It’s not in the spirit of where the country is heading, where President Biden wants to open the country.”
Del Rio noted that 70% of American adults are expected to be vaccinated by the beginning of July, when Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings had wanted to restart operations out of U.S. ports. He suggested the restrictions the CDC had included in the operations manual didn’t fit with where the country was going to be a few months from now.
“We hope we’re reading it wrong,” he added. “We’ll see what happens over the next few days as we reengage with [the CDC].”
Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:
- The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
- The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
- A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
- 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
- 15 ways cruisers waste money
- 12 best cruises for people who never want to grow up
- What to pack for your first cruise
Featured image of courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees