The CDC Wants Your Opinion On How Cruises Start Back Up

Whether we’re talking about Disney World or any one of the 50 states, when it comes to reopening during a global pandemic, nobody really knows what the hell they’re doing. Will Florida’s reopening of Disney World amidst a statewide surge in new cases prove disastrous, or have the mask orders and social distancing precautions made a difference? They certainly have in New York City, where daily deaths are down to single-digit numbers and hospitalizations are at an all-time low.

If there’s one constant in the COVID-world, it’s that definitive answers are hard to come by.

This uncertainty explains, in part, why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently weighing public opinion as to what the cruise ship industry looks like when it eventually reopens. Rather than blindly issuing their own guidelines, they’re reaching out to those who would potentially get sick or spend months drifting at sea if ships were locked down. Last week, the CDC extended its “no-sail” order for US cruise ships until September 30th and began formally asking for public input to help the organization craft future preventative measures relating to cruise ship travel.

Participants will have until September 21st to submit their comments through a virtual portal or via the embattled USPS. The 28 question survey is open to all members of the public or any organization so long as their submissions address one of the 28 questions — meaning that leaders and those with a vested financial interest in the cruise ship industry will surely let their voices be heard, in addition to potential cruisers.

Speaking to USA Today, Caitlin Shockey, a spokesperson for the CDC explained that the 28 question survey was “developed by the CDC subject matter experts to inform future public health guidance and preventative measures relating to travel on cruise ships,” and features a diverse set of questions such as “What mental health services should cruise ship operators provide to crew and passengers during quarantine or isolation?” and “What precautions should the cruise line industry take to safely disembark passengers and crew without transmitting COVID-19 into local seaport communities?” as well as questions relating to virus transmission prevention, testing frequency, passenger and crew well being, and boarding and disembarking precautions.

All answers submitted will eventually become part of the public record and are subject to public disclosure. The US-based cruise ship industry is currently scheduled to resume operation in October — however, the CDC’s “no-sail” order can be issued at any time. At this point, the public appetite for cruises remains high, though a recent 40-person outbreak in Norway seems to have left cruise lines wary of rushing to restart.