Cruise lines may be back in business on American waters by the middle of summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
There are some specific boxes to check before passenger excursions can resume, however, with vessels needing 98 percent of their crew and 95 percent of their passengers to be fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Recent talks between the cruise lines and the CDC resulted in a CDC agreement to alter its strict testing requirements and pave the way for easier approval to leave port.
CDC spokesperson Caitlin Shockey gave USA Today a timeline.
“CDC looks forward to continued engagement with the industry and urges cruise lines to submit Phase 2A port agreements as soon as possible to maintain the timeline of passenger voyages by mid-July,” Shockey said.
Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain wasn’t certain about mid-summer but did not rule it out.
“I would also emphasize that the restart does not mean that we will immediately go in to full operation,” he said in a conference call. “We are hopeful about restarting. That restart will be gradual and deliberate.
“It could be possible to restart cruising by mid-July.”
The market reacted favorably to the possible end of the 12+-month down time. Carnival Corp. stocks were up almost 2%; Royal Caribbean, 1%; and shares of Norwegian Cruise Lines, the smallest of the three by fleet size, were up almost 4%.
Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Frank Del Rio told USA Today he welcomed the news.
“We are hopeful that the CDC’s most recent letter is a harbinger of more good things to come,” Del Rio said on Thursday.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has blasted previous CDC restrictions as “baseless” and, earlier this month, his state sued the federal government, insisting that cruises from U.S. ports resume.