CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a Senate hearing on Tuesday that she expects the Conditional Sail Order (CSO) will expire as planned on Jan. 15.
However, she also said that there had been a 30-fold increase in Covid cases on ships over the last two weeks because of the omicron variant, and that she expects most cruise lines will continue to follow the order voluntarily.
The CDC in October said that the CSO would expire on Jan. 15 and transition to a voluntary program in coordination with cruise lines.
In response to a question from Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Walensky said that the cruise industry had "stepped up" and went beyond the CDC's guidelines.
"The fact that the industry has stepped up and is now interested in doing and exceeding the compliance with the [CSO] without the order even necessarily needing to be in place is a real testimony to how well that has worked and how we work collaboratively with the industry," Walensky said.
Murkowski specifically asked Walensky about the Alaska cruise season, saying the cruise industry had "undertaken extraordinary precautions to make sure that people are protected from this virus.
"I want to make sure that Alaskan communities and businesses can have a season this coming year, and right now people are making their decisions as to whether or not to book a trip to Alaska for the summer."
Walensky said that she can't predict "what summer will bring."