US cruise ships could sail again by July — CDC

Cruise ships may be able to resume sailing from ports in Florida in mid-July after being shut down for over a year by the coronavirus pandemic, according to new guidelines from US health authorities.

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) informed cruise companies on Wednesday of the requirements they would need to meet to begin sailing again.

At least 98 per cent of the crew and 95 per cent of passengers will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the letter obtained by AFP on Thursday.

“Ships may now bypass simulated voyages and move directly to open water sailing with passengers if a ship attests that 98 per cent of its crew and 95 per cent of its passengers are fully vaccinated,” the CDC said.

Cruise lines were asked to submit their plans “as soon as possible to maintain the timeline of passenger voyages by mid-July”.

The multi-billion dollar cruise industry employs thousands of people in Florida and is critical to a state that relies largely on tourism.

The three largest cruise lines in the world — Norwegian, Carnival and Royal Caribbean — run operations out of south Florida.