(CNN) — If you’re one of those people who have been eagerly awaiting the chance to take a cruise out of US ports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a bit of good news for you on Friday.
But that doesn’t mean lots of ships full of passengers will be sailing like it’s 2019 starting next week — the keyword in this order is “conditional.”
The order is a first cautious step toward the resumption of cruising in an industry that has been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic since the no-sail order was placed March 14.
Friday’s order applies to cruise ships with the capacity to carry at least 250 passengers.
Crew members first
The British cruise ship MS Braemar was one of numerous cruise ships around the world that desparately searched for a port in March as pandemic lockdowns swept the world. The CDC is moving cautiously to avoid a second round of that.
ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP via Getty Images
The phased return begins while cruise ship operators build lab capacity to test crew members and future passengers. Companies must show they adhere to testing, social distancing, quarantining and isolating requirements when necessary.
Later phases involve “mock voyages,” with volunteers playing the role of passengers to test virus mitigation strategies on trips. Once ships have met certain requirements, they will be certified to begin operations with real passengers.
“This framework provides 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.
CDC: Safety first
The CDC notes that recent outbreaks on cruise ships overseas show that even when passenger capacity is reduced, cruise ship travel amplifies transmission.
It “would likely spread the disease into U.S. communities if passenger operations were to resume in the United States without public health oversight.”
A phased approach will allow the cruise industry to test the effectiveness of mitigation measures on cruise ships without burdening public health, the CDC said.
It could still be a good ways off before people are leaving US ports.
Other parts of the world
Quantum of the Seas is slated to partake in “cruises to nowhere” out of Singapore.
Outside the United States, cruising is in various states of flux depending on regional conditions.