Travel advisors said that the CDC’s decision this week to drop the Covid-19 Program for Cruise Ships would help boost bookings.
The CDC said in a statement that it had determined that the cruise industry has access to “the necessary tools” to prevent and mitigate Covid-19 onboard.
Cruise lines cited the end of the program as testament to their Covid protocols and safety measures but indicated that those protocols were not likely to change immediately as they review new guidelines from the CDC released on July 20.
“You’ll start to see us move into what society is doing at large,” said Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald.
Anthony Hamawy, president of Cruise.com, was thrilled by the news. He said that while he appreciates the advancements cruise lines have made since the pandemic, such as better air filtration systems, adjusting rules on vaccination rates would free up more people to travel, particularly families hesitant to vaccinate their children.
For the past month, Hamawy has seen a boost in cruise bookings outside the U.S., a trend that began within a week of the U.S. ending mandatory Covid testing for inbound air travel in June.
“These rules are absolutely making an impact on business,” said Hamawy, who expects a similar bookings boost as cruise lines share their adjusted regulations.
Brad Tolkin, co-CEO of World Travel Holdings, said he, too, expects a bookings bounce. “We are already experiencing an increase in calls and bookings due to the pent-up demand for cruise, and we expect to see another uptick as a result of this latest announcement.”
The cruise industry will still be required to provide regular reports to the CDC on health and safety for every vessel, a requirement that predates the pandemic. Anne Madison, a CLIA spokeswoman, said the requirement “puts an out-weighted focus on cruise” as hotels and airlines are not required to provide that information, long frustrating the cruise industry.
Johanna Jainchill contributed to this report.
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