CDC sets rules for preliminary cruises with volunteer travelers

Cruise lines can soon start preliminary journeys in U.S. waters with volunteer travelers helping test whether the ships can cruise securely during a pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave ship operators final technical rules Wednesday for the preliminary runs. The CDC activity is a step toward continuing cruises in U.S. waters, perhaps by July, for the first time since March 2020.

A representative for the cruise industry’s trade group said the group was looking into the CDC instructions.

Each practice cruise — they’ll run two to seven days — should have enough travelers to meet at least 10% of the ship’s capacity. Volunteers should be 18 or more established and either completely immunized or free of medical conditions that would put them at high risk for serious COVID-19.

The ship operator should tell travelers that they are simulating untested safety measures “and that sailing during a pandemic is an inherently risky activity,” the CDC rules state.

Travelers should be inspected for COVID-19 symptoms when the trip, and at least 75% should be tested at the end.

Limitations on board will incorporate face masks and social distancing. The CDC will permit guided shore journeys — no meandering about all alone — if tour operators follow specific guidelines.

Boats should make at least one practice run prior to continuing ordinary travels in U.S. waters, in spite of the fact that operators will actually want to stay away from the necessity in the event that they vouch that 98% of the group and 95% of travelers are inoculated.

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