CDC lifts cruise ban as coronavirus rages

| 03/11/2020 | 53 Comments
Cayman News Service
Cruise ship in George Town Harbour

(CNS): The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not renewed its no-sail order on cruise ships based at American ports after it expired Saturday. Instead, as COVID-19 rages around the world and especially in the US, the CDC has announced a framework for a phased resumption of cruise operations, though no date has been set for when ships can actually sail with passengers.

Although cruising was a significant conduit for the coronavirus in the early stages of this pandemic, especially in the Caribbean, the ships will be allowed to set sail to allow crew members to return to home ports. This will be followed by mock cruises until the cruise lines build the capacity to test crew members and future passengers and meet other social distancing and safety criteria.

While cruise lines have continued to advertise and sell cruises for November and December 2020, even claiming to be including Grand Cayman on their ports of call list, the government here has stated on numerous occasions that it will not be allowing the return of cruise ships for many more months.

Following the release of the new CDC framework, several of the major operators cancelled trips planned for the rest of 2020 as they shift their focus on relaunching the increasingly controversial tourism product next year.

Here in Cayman, as the tourism ministry wrestles with how to restart overnight tourism as the first stage in bringing back tourism in general, cruising has been shelved for the short term and it is unlikely that George Town will see any ships in port during this winter season.

Despite the obvious challenges for cruise ships, which are super spreaders when it comes to the coronavirus, the companies have been lobbying hard to get back in business. The CDC said the framework would provide a pathway to resume safe and responsible sailing.

“It will mitigate the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks on ships and prevent passengers and crew from seeding outbreaks at ports and in the communities where they live,” CDC Director Dr Robert Redfield said in a statement.

But the CDC’s own report points out that “cruise travel has the potential to exacerbate and amplify the spread” of this virus, and it was the increased risk of transmission on cruise ships that led to the CDC’s no-sail order in the first place. But as the United States faces a rate of almost 100,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day, the CDC has opted to lift the ban on cruise ships.

With the difficulties of social distancing, even with a limited number of people on board, as well as the high transmission rates among asymptomatic crew members making detection and isolation challenging, the CDC admits that covert spread of infection can keep the virus circulating from one voyage to the next.

But having bent to the lobbying power of the cruise lines, the CDC is now setting conditions for sailing. Companies must show that they adhere to testing, social distancing, quarantining and isolating requirements when necessary, though how any of that can happen safely on a cruise ship remains in question. Mock voyages, with volunteers playing the role of passengers, are being suggested as a test for virus mitigation strategies on trips. Once ships have met certain requirements, they will be certified to begin operations with real passengers.

See the CDC statement here.


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Category: Business, Tourism

Comments (53)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Maybe they figured that a disease with such low mortality rate, does not warrant the further destruction of the tourism industry. I suggest we spend some time fighting diabetes and the current child obesity epidemic.

  2. Danny says:

    I would be happy if only high end cruise ships and their passengers were allowed to come back to Cayman, allowing overnight stops and only when the Covid 19 virus is in full retreat, vaccines are freely available worldwide and never at the numbers they used to be at.
    Perhaps 3 small ships like the Crystal Cruise, Silver Seas or other 6-Star ships and a maximum of 2000 passengers at any one time.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think everyone should relax. With the speed the way of life is changing, in 5 years humanity would have significantly more serious issues to worry about. If anyone would be left with the thinking brain.

    With 800 Elon Musk’s satellites already in Space, 39,200 is left to launch…. I’ll stop here… you engage your brain.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why cant we employ the tourism people at the dump.
    They can fix it!

  5. "Anonymousir" says:

    money … someone paid cdc. money. cruise lines are loosing money. they rather lose lives than lose money and so they need to be sailing. the people who are money driven. dont give a f about covid-19. they need to make their money … money .. money .. f’ing money! the root of evil! and with the world crumbling to its knees everyday .. you all still want MONEY!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    It would be good business to allow cruise ships to anchor off Little Cayman and enjoy the beaches and diving there. It should also be used as the quarantine island before admission to the Brac or Grand. Now the rainy season is coming to an end a tent city would be easy and cheap accommodation.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This makes no odds. It is just a matter of time before Cayman is under Lockdown 2.0.
    Just a matter of time.
    Make plans.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, I know you thumb me down.
      Are you thumbing me down because:
      a) You do not believe there will be another lockdown.
      b) You do not want another lockdown.
      c) You are paid to click for the government narrative.
      d) You are confused.

  8. Anonymous says:

    this is a serious problem. Regardless of if/when tourism is opened, ‘trickle tourism’ will likely be the new norm for awhile. It’s hard to believe any ‘magic switch’ is going to put things back where they were before in which the question then becomes for those in the hospitality/watersports sector as well as cruise related of how much longer could a massively reduced market sustain the operators and how viable is it really to get back in the game. This isn’t about putting the key in the door and opening shop again, the task has evolved to pretty much beginning anew and finding the capital and resources to do so.

  9. George Ebanks says:

    Like it or not, Cayman needs something to boost our economy. So, let’s welcome back cruise service to our fair islands with proper caution.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Build our port!

  11. Anonymous says:

    So govt just going to keep paying out $1000. Per month for ever??

    • Anonymous says:

      No. The recipients should be retrained and assimilated into other areas of the economy.

      • Anonymous says:

        Pie in the sky

      • Anonymous says:

        What areas you do you propose ? Go by Morgan’s Harbor & Safe Haven, all the anchored and sinking boats you see were once Caymans heritage boat excursion & tour operators , some of which had been operating for multiple generations of Caymanian families. There are many people now un-employable here in Cayman as a result of the crisis, as there are the world over. We have no tourism industry any longer in Cayman , just what jobs are these people supposed to be “Assimilated’ into?

        • Anonymous says:

          pleaty of low skill jobs around, that are currently filled by expats.

          Gardening, Pool cleaning, refuse collection, office and home cleaning, nannying; the list goes on.

        • Anonymous says:

          Sadly CIG let everyone and their dog start a watersports business.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hopefully

    • Anonymous says:

      You mean “we” are going to keep paying right? Govt doesnt earn money, they just collect fees, duties and taxes from us to pay their salaries and god knows what else at this point

      • The World is a Vampire says:

        What else, well, let’s see things that the Private sector would charge us triple for. Roads, infrastructure, fire service, police service, ambulance service, garage, service, public school service, and on and on and on. You know, “Social” stuff for the betterment and health of a country.

        Are they perfect? Of course not, neither are any other prospects that would takeover running these type of services. I know, I know, private trickle down and all that buzz wording, doesn’t work as intended, or is it even meant to…

  12. Anonymous says:

    When is government going to start efforts to train and redeploy Caymanians who formerly worked in cruise tourism? They’ve had 8 months!

    • Anonymous says:

      02/06/2020, CNS

      …I have been working diligently to create a strategic plan that will move the tourism industry forward into economic recovery,” Kirkconnell said.

      …will focus on readiness by developing the best methodologies to reactivate the tourism sector.

      …it will be looking to help tourism businesses and employees adapt to a new way of operating.

      …Paul Byles, founder and director of FTS, will be working with the ministry to help shape the plan.

      23/07/2020,CNS
      RB5, The Road Back to 500K Air Arrivals.

      …the plan will “catapult our destination back into the global… tourism market.

      …seeks to reinvent the Cayman Islands tourism industry product.

      …the rebuild will depend on the technology of bio-buttons.

      …success of the plan will be heavily dependent on a “robust marketing strategy focusing on an affluent luxury traveller”

      …providing a portal to business funding and support tools for success in owning a tourism business.

      • Anonymous says:

        The language reminds me that of stillborn, the first, comprehensive National Youth Policy for the Cayman Islands created by Hon. Tara Rivers.
        http://tararivers.ky/about.html

        • Anonymous says:

          Yeah. “Leadership you can trust”, to coin her own phrase.
          Tara, you have never nor will you ever prove yourself a leader. Sycophant yes, but leader no.

      • Anonymous says:

        Intention meet reality. Don’t talk do. I’m sick of politicians platitudes. Be honest, forthcoming, and realistic. Or at least do your homework.

        • Anonymous says:

          “Be honest, forthcoming, and realistic.” Sorry, 1:29 pm! These terms are unknown to our politicians.

  13. Anonymous says:

    but its ok to get on a plane to cayman without any pre-testing??
    all travellers should be pre-tested before leaving anywhere.

    • Anonymous says:

      I remain to be convinced that pre-testing proves very much. The incubation period for COVID-19 is quoted by CDC as about seven days. That means someone can be infected and test negative for quite a while. Pre-testing only shows you’re not actively infected/infectious at the time of the test, it doesn’t show you’re not in the process of coming down with the virus. OK, it weeds out anyone who is sick and can infect others but like AIDS testing it needs proper follow up to be effective.

      In some of the UK hotspots they’re talking about testing workers every day and that’s probably what the cruise ships will need to do with everyone on board.

      • Anonymous says:

        thank you captain obvious. we are trying to improve the situation …why would you not want to know if someone is actively infected before flying?

        • Anonymous says:

          Read my comment properly, ‘OK, it weeds out anyone who is sick and can infect others but like AIDS testing it needs proper follow up to be effective.’ Isn’t that clear enough for you?

          Simple fact – someone can test negative at the airport (or the cruise terminal?) and be safe to travel but may still be in the process of developing COVID-19. It may weed out those who are actively infected and clearly can’t travel but you can’t rely on it to say they’re not going to get sick in the next few days.

          If you need this in the simplest terms – passengers can test negative at Heathrow and get on the flight out here even though in the UK they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and are still in the incubation period. Where will they get sick? Out here. So it still needs appropriate follow up and isn’t the complete answer.

          • Anonymous says:

            LOL 2:00 You are wasting your time arguing with a product of the Cayman Islands education system. 1:43 probably thinks COVID-19 is like radiation and can be detected the instant you touch it.

          • Anonymous says:

            you miss the point. pre testing improves the situation. follow up testing will always be required.
            having this discussion is like banging your head against a brick wall.

  14. ELO says:

    The CDC is no longer credible. Purely a means of putting Trumps wishes out there. At a time when Fauci is warning about the virus, the CDC have zero credibility. Cayman cannot allow the cruise ships back YET

  15. Anonymous says:

    And we don’t want them! Keep it sis!

  16. Cheese Face says:

    Mmmmmmm – Floating Petri Dish!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Keep them away forever

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