With more than 3,689 COVID-19 or similar cases reported aboard cruise ships since the coronavirus pandemic began, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended a no-sail order through Oct. 31.
The third modification and extension of the order applies to cruise ships with more than 250 passengers in waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction.
On Oct. 1, Carnival Cruise Line voluntarily extended its operational pause for most of its U.S. voyages through the end of 2020. The only exceptions will be cruises out of the line’s home ports of Miami and Port Canaveral, which Carnival hopes to resume Nov. 1.
The S.C. Ports Authority said in a statement that they do not have a confirmed date when Carnival Sunshine will resume operations in Charleston but that they continue to work with federal agencies and cruise lines to support the community.
Worldwide, cruise operations support more than 1.17 million jobs in various industries and generate more than $150 billion in economic activity — $53 billion in the U.S. — according to Cruise Lines International Association.
For each day the industry is suspended, the U.S. economy loses $110 million and 800 American jobs, the association said, meaning more than 163,000 direct and indirect losses in the U.S. between March and September.
While cases aboard cruise ships only amount to “a fraction of a fraction of a percent” of the 20 million COVID-19 cases worldwide, according to Cruise Lines International Association, even at reduced passenger capacities, outbreaks would still occur and only further burden public health authorities.
To safely resume U.S. cruise ship operations, the association created a list of mandatory protocols to be followed. Elements include testing of 100% of passengers and crew prior to embarkation; mandatory mask wearing for passengers and crew; and distancing in terminals, onboard ships, on islands and during excursions.
Ventilation strategies will be implemented to increase fresh air on board and each ship will have risk-based response plans to manage medical needs. This includes credentialed doctors and nurses on board.
“As we have said throughout this pause, our return to operations will be gradual and phased in,” Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said in a news release.
“The patience and support of our guests and travel agent partners have been a huge motivation to our team as we have worked through this unprecedented situation, and we are dedicated to getting back to operations when the time is right,” Duffy said.