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Let's go cruisin!
That distant sound you heard last Wednesday? It might’ve been the roaring of cruise ship horns from around the world, or at least those from lines that have regularly served U.S. ports in the past. That day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) informed cruise lines that they could resume sailing from American ports as of July 1. This decision will hopefully end the ban on America-based cruising that will have lasted more than a year.

           There is, of course, a catch. According to reports from USA Today and Reuters, the CDC will allow lines to resume sailing if they are in compliance with its Conditional Sail Order (CSO). That order allows cruise lines to skip simulated test voyages if 98% of crew members and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The order also requires lines to submit Phase 2A port agreements as soon as possible if they want to meet the July 1 goal. For its part, the CDC promised to respond to applications within 5 days, instead of the previous 60 days.

           Many cruise lines have already resumed sailing from non-U.S. ports, with others having already announced plans to follow suit, but the news is still very welcome. There may even be hope for salvaging this year’s Alaska cruise season, according to a statement from Royal Caribbean Group’s CEO, Richard Fain. “Although this is only part of a very complex process,” Fain wrote, “it encourages us that we now see a pathway to a healthy and achievable return to service, hopefully in time for an Alaskan season.”

           CDC had previously set November 1 as a tentative date for a cruise re-start, but advances in vaccination across the country played a part in moving up that timetable by four months. Political pressure also came into play; earlier in April, three U.S. Senators, two from Florida and one from Alaska, the states most impacted by the halt in cruising, introduced a bill that would revoke CDC’s current sail order and open up U.S. ports for cruise lines. The bill would have required CDC to provide COVID-19 mitigation guidance for cruise lines to resume safe domestic operations by July 4. Two earlier bills designed to help the cruise industry, including one aimed at allowing ships to sail directly to Alaska from U.S. ports without requiring a stop in Canada, failed to advance.

           Royal Caribbean’s Fain didn’t address the Canada question in his statement. Earlier this year, Canadian authorities restricted access to their waters and ports to cruise ships of 100 or fewer passengers, virtually shutting down the popular Alaska cruise industry for what would’ve been a second straight season. Alaska’s two Senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, introduced the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act, but it could not muster enough support for a vote on its own merits, and was not attached to the huge COVID-19 relief bill. There is still a possibility that the Alaska cruise bill could be voted on, or attached to a future, larger bill, but that may be months away. At press time, the Canadian government was not budging on its large-ship ban, even though its decision was causing economic distress for its citizens in British Columbia. 

           Whether you want to sail to Alaska or elsewhere, we stand ready to help you navigate the latest requirements and options. Give us a call, and we’ll have you back on board this year!

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Beginning October 1, 2021, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the United States.

Make sure to check your passport expiration date! Passports must be good at least six months beyond your travel return date. 


Travel Designers Travel Leaders Team



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Susan Tindell

Rice Lake, WI
Certified Tahiti Specialist

La ora na! (Hello!) The crystal blue waters of the South Pacific lap the white sands of the beach just steps away from your bungalow. It's another beautiful day in paradise---Tahiti. Experience the Society Islands from a sumptuous resort or aboard...
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