Smooth Sailing? Not Really, As Cruise Ships Allowed To Sail, Just Not With Passengers.

FILE - In this Sunday, March 8, 2020 file photo, the Grand Princess maintains a holding pattern about 30 miles off the coast of San Francisco, carrying multiple people who have tested positive for the coronavirus. On Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, U.S. federal health officials issued new rules that will enable large cruise ships to start sailing again in U.S. waters, though not immediately. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Cruise ships can begin sailing again this week, just not with you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s no-sail order for the industry expired on Oct. 31 and has been replaced with a 40-page document outlining how simulated cruises can be a pathway to resuming commercial business.

The trial runs eventually would include crew members acting as passengers or volunteer guests so that implementation of social distancing, mandatory masks and COVID-19 testing can be practiced. There was no timeline for when the paying public could resume vacations on the high seas.

“Cruising safely and responsibly during a global pandemic is very challenging,” the CDC statement read after the White House stopped its attempt to extend the no-sail order until February.

The cruise ships must perform interval testing with on-board laboratories and test passengers who disembark and return. Symptomatic passengers will be placed in isolation while the other passengers are quarantined.

New crews would be quarantined for 14 days before the cruise and 14 days before disembarking. Passengers would be tested twice before disembarking.

The 40-page report on a conditional sailing format was developed out of months of meetings by the Healthy Sail Panel.

“If the outcome is not as desired, one has to ask: Is the plan not good enough, or is implementation not good enough?” CDC Director of Global Migration and Quarantine Dr. Martin Cetron told The New York Times. “This is a virus that can be very unforgiving of a mistake.”

That lesson came at a steep price after a number of cases were discovered in January aboard the Diamond Princess, which was docked for weeks, leading to 700 COVID-19 cases and nine deaths.

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