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CruiseMaine hosts planning session for potential 2021 cruise season

'We all need to work together to plan for all possibilities if we want to get cruise and really our whole economy up and running again,' Eastport Port Authority's Chris Gardner said. Eastport is pictured here
CruiseMaine, part of the Maine Office of Tourism, hosted an informative session to begin the planning process for a potential 2021 cruise season.

Attendees included representatives from Maine ports, the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others involved in businesses or attractions that benefit from cruise passenger visits.

The US CDC's framework for conditional sailing order outlines numerous requirements that a cruise ship must meet and several requirements for shoreside operations including contingency planning for potential COVID-19 cases.

Overview of CDC requirements

Tuesday’s CruiseMaine meeting provided an overview of CDC's requirements and included a presentation by Ioannis Bras of Five Senses Consulting & Development, based in Greece. Bras, who has a background in risk mitigation and cruise ship operations, helped draft the new health and safety protocols adopted by Greek ports before passenger operations resumed there last August.

First step toward a statewide plan

'One of our key objectives at CruiseMaine is to help our member ports with regulatory compliance,' said Sarah Flink, executive director of CruiseMaine. 'Although the beginning of our season is still several months away and may very well be delayed further depending on health metrics and other factors, we know safe resumption of cruise operations in Maine will involve everyone from longshoremen to tour operators to medical facilities.

'Our goal with this meeting and the rest of the planning process,' she continued, 'is to provide all stakeholders with timely, accurate information and ultimately, to create a statewide plan for how we can once again safely offer our renowned, warm Maine welcome to cruise visitors.'

Need to work together

'None of us can operate in a bubble in Maine,' said Chris Gardner, executive director of the Eastport Port Authority. 'We all need to work together to plan for all possibilities if we want to get cruise and really our whole economy up and running again. This meeting is a good start, and I look forward to getting to work in January on the rest of the plan.'