WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Airports are getting busier and hotels are booking up as more and more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19, but one industry remains stalled – the cruise industry. Now, a group of U.S. senators are working to lift the “no sail” order and resume operations by this summer.
“I’m very disappointed in the CDC,” Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said.
Scott said he’s still waiting for answers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as to when the cruise ship industry can start sailing again. The CDC shut down the industry last March after major outbreaks on cruise ships.
“We want to open our cruise industry up again but we gotta do it in a safe manner,” Scott said. “So the CDC should be sitting down every day, they should be coming up with a plan and listening to the cruise industry.”
But Scott said the CDC isn’t listening and ships have remained docked while other industries have taken off.
“I mean, everybody else is back. Hotels are coming back, others are coming back,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said.
Rubio is joining Scott on legislation to get the cruise industry moving again but an effort to pass the bill was recently blocked in the Senate.
“Well, I’m clearly disappointed that my colleague from Washington would object to this common-sense proposal,” Scott said last week.
Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington blocked the bill, saying the cruise industry requires specific focus to prevent future outbreaks.
“While I’m as eager as anyone else to return to travel, we cannot cut corners,” Murray said. “Doing so risks lives and will only further delay returning to normal.”
Earlier this month, the CDC issued a set of technical guidelines to help cruise companies prepare their ships to start sailing again, but Scott and Rubio said there’s still no clear timeline.
“They’re the only industry in America that not only has been told they can’t reopen but has been given no guidance,” Rubio said.
Both Scott and Rubio hope cruises will set sail by July 4. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has a similar timeline in mind and has said the current cruise ship ban is based on outdated medical information. The state threatened to sue the CDC unless ships are allowed to set sail by this summer.
The CDC says the next phase will include simulated trial voyages to practice new COVID-19 protocols with volunteers before sailing with passengers.