As per a new advisory from the CDC, Cruise ship passengers and crew who disembark in the U.S. will no longer be able to board a domestic commercial flight directly after the sailing.
This affects passengers with and without any symptoms of sickness, the sole fact that they have been on the ships is sufficient to ban them from regular flights.
The CDC order is explicit that cruise lines should organize the safe transport of the passengers back home. Not sure how this is even remotely possible considering the vast mix of nationalities on board and costs of chartering aircraft.
Here are the new regulations for cruise companies:
- Cruise lines are responsible for treating all ill or infected patients, including those who need hospitalization.
- For travelers who need emergency medical attention, cruise lines should coordinate with public health and U.S. Coast Guard to arrange for appropriate transportation to a place where such care can occur.
- Cruise lines must arrange for disembarking travelers with no symptoms or mild symptoms to return directly to their residence by chartered or private transportation that can be properly sanitized. Commercial flights and other public transportation may not be used.
- Travelers with mild symptoms may return home alone or with other symptomatic travelers by charter flight, air ambulance, ground ambulance or other private vehicle that can be properly sanitized. Cabin mates with no symptoms may accompany ill travelers if they provide written consent to the cruise line ahead of time.
- Well travelers with no symptoms may return home alone or with other well travelers by charter flight or other private vehicle that can be properly sanitized.
- Cruise ship companies should provide to all travelers, including crew, a procedural/surgical mask, cloth face covering, or non-medical mask such as a bandanna, and ask them to wear it during:
- ship disembarkation,
- transport to any flights,
- the duration of the flight(s), and
- any ground transportation until they reach their final destination.
- Cruise ship companies should NOT be distributing N-95 respirator masks to passengers or crew.
The costs easily add up and I can’t see how the cruise lines are able to bring travelers and crew to their final destination given the new rules that are in place.
One cruise ship has between 5000-6000 passengers plus crew on board. That’s a giant number and it simply not practical to bring out a blanket rule. What are these people supposed to do, take a road trip through the entire country? 6000 people means 25 airplanes full of passengers.
The quarantine clock starts as soon as people get off the ship which also doesn’t make much sense. Going from one congested space to another such a hotel isn’t making things better.
It won’t take long until this new policy will unearth a lot of capacity issues. Not being able to take any commercial transportation for 14 days will be impossible to accomplish. Passengers certainly don’t have the money for it and at some point the cruise lines are going to fold and say “We can’t do it anymore, money is out!”.
On the other hand it’s going to be very hard to identify passengers who take commercial flights regardless of this rule, especially if they are booking on their own. In what way passengers are liable and subject to prosecution for such actions is something they should consult an attorney for in advance.