CDC Lifts 'No Sail' Order for U.S. Cruise Ships

Starting Nov. 1 cruise ships will be allowed to sail in U.S. waters again even though many cruise lines have canceled trips for the rest of the year.

Carnival Cruise ship
A Carnival cruise ship. Carnival is a member of the Cruise Lines International Association. . Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

After months of extending its 'No Sail' order and preventing cruise ships from embarking on their voyages because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is permitting ships to set sail again — under a few conditions.

On Friday, the CDC announced a new framework for a 'Conditional Sail' Order that would allow major cruise companies to head out on U.S. waters once again. Described as a "phased resumption of cruise ship operations," the updated advisory goes into effect on Nov. 1, as the most previous order expires on Oct. 31.

Under the new rules, which are detailed in phases, all crew members will be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis and be provided with personal protection equipment. Vessels will undergo simulated voyages to "test cruise ships' ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk [and] certification for ships that meet specific requirements."

Ships must also establish written agreements with ports approving of housing if a need for passengers or crew to quarantine arises or if a passenger needs to be evacuated to a nearby hospital.

Passengers will only be allowed back on to a ship when it has received its "COVID-19 Conditional Sailing Certificate." Passengers will be required to undergo testing when arriving and departing the ship.

Throughout the pandemic, cruise lines around the world have canceled their itineraries throughout 2020 and have started to release dates for 2021. Princess Cruises has also canceled select trips into 2021.

In recent months, cruise companies have implemented their own rules for future sailings including limited capacity, temperature checks, and mandatory mask-wearing.

The rules follow several incidents where cruise ships around the world — notably The Diamond Princess in Japan — were halted at sea or docked for days due to a COVID-19 outbreak on board.

The CDC's original 'No Sail' order was instituted on March 14, 2020.

Christine Burroni is Travel + Leisure’s Digital News Editor. Find her keeping up with just about everything on Twitter or see what she’s up to in NYC or on her latest trip on Instagram.

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