'I do recognize that you have many important public health issues to tend to and was reticent to even write, however, we strongly believe our proposal should be the model for how the travel and hospitality industry operates in a COVID-19 environment. Our industry supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and contributes billions of dollars to this country’s economy and is certainly deserving of your time and attention,' Del Rio said.
Cruise industry/CDC meetings
The NCLH chief noted a meeting was held between the cruise industry and CDC on Monday, however his company's proposal was not addressed.
According to CDC, the meeting discussed the framework for conditional sailing order, cruise operators' frustration with the requirements, the incorporation of vaccination mandates into restarting service and the establishment of a working group with industry and the agency to work toward resuming cruising as soon as possible.
'Going forward, we understand the industry may be having regular meetings with your office but remain concerned that such meetings produce the nonexistent results they have had since last year,' Del Rio wrote Walensky. 'While abiding by science and data, as the CDC normally does, you lend a fresh perspective to this issue. Our sincerest hope is that you, and the entire Biden-Harris administration, allow us to responsibly cruise again.'
Vaccination is key
His letter noted NCLH shares Walensky's view that 'vaccinations are the primary vehicle for Americans to get back to their everyday lives while containing the spread of the virus.' And mandatory crew and passenger vaccination, along with multiple layers of protocols, including universal COVID-19 testing, are part of NCLH's plan.
'The safety and security of our guests, crew and the communities we visit is our number one priority,' Del Rio continued. 'We recognize that our stringent vaccination requirements will temporarily preclude certain of our key guest demographics from purchasing cruises on our brands, including families with passengers under 15 years of age, but we believe this is the safest and most effective way to cruise in the current public health environment.'