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ASTA calls on Biden administration to lift cruise restrictions

The American Society of Travel Advisors called on the Biden administration to allow cruising, citing rising COVID-19 vaccination rates and the fact that other activities are resuming.

ASTA President & CEO Zane Kerby asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to 'immediately lift its restrictions on cruising and set July 1 as the date that cruising can resume from US ports.'

Kerby said that 'With the observance of proper masking and social distancing protocols, nearly every other form of human activity has been cleared for resumption, including dining in restaurants, attending movies and sporting events, overnight hotel stays and traveling by air,' adding that 'inexplicably,' however, CDC keeps cruising suspended.

'Unwarranted' restrictions

'The ongoing restrictions are particularly unwarranted given that COVID-19 vaccinations are on the rise,' Kerby argued. 'Approximately 25% of all Americans have received at least one dose, with the number of those fully vaccinated increasing daily. These facts, coupled with early indications that vaccinated individuals are not likely to spread the virus, are a compelling reason to permit the resumption of cruises, especially considering the comprehensive hygiene and safety standards already put in place by the cruise lines.'

US losing homeporting ships

The ASTA chief noted that several US-based lines are readying to resume by homeporting outside the US. Lines have recently announced plans to homeport in Bermuda, the Bahamas and St. Maarten.

People are planning summer trips

According to ASTA consumer research, 44% of Americans are getting vaccinated so they can travel, while 87% say they're planning a summer trip, with a plurality planning two trips. The research also found more than 70% of those surveyed are ready to cruise now.

'We fully expect Americans ready to cruise will now begin their journeys by flying to the Caribbean instead of directly to Miami or Fort Lauderdale,' Kerby said. 'In recognition of the fact that vaccination rates are rising while both infection and mortality rates are declining, these forward-thinking Caribbean islands are now homeport for some of the world’s largest cruise ships. 

'In contrast, the CDC’s continued inaction in removing cruise restrictions imperils livelihoods and communities in South Florida, up to now the de facto cruise capital of the world, and far beyond. It is a shame that the CDC’s inflexibility has brought us to this point.'

Kerby stated that US ports support hundreds of thousands of jobs in South Florida and across the nation. In 2019, he added, travel agencies processed $12.3bn in cruise sales, directly supporting 86,360 cruise line jobs stateside.