Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) wants an answer from the CDC to its request to resume sailing on July 4.

"It is frustrating that, to date, we have yet to receive even an acknowledgment of this proposal," NCLH CEO Frank Del Rio said in an April 15 letter to CDC director Rochelle Walensky.

The cruise company on April 5 submitted a proposal to the CDC outlining its plan to resume cruise operations from U.S. ports. Its multi-layered, SailSAFE Health and Safety Program includes the recommendations of the Healthy Sail Panel of experts led by a former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Michael Leavitt, and a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Scott Gottlieb. Recommendations include universal testing of guests and crew, launching at an reduced capacity of 60% and mandating full vaccination of crew and passengers.

Del Rio said that while he recognized that there are "many important public health issues to tend to," he added, "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 also said that it is not enough that the industry continues to communicate and meet with CDC members.

"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 said. "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."

In the letter, Del Rio said that NCLH shares the CDC's view "that vaccinations are the primary vehicle for Americans to get back to their everyday lives while containing the spread of the virus."

"As such, our robust science-backed plan combines mandatory vaccinations for all guests and crew with multiple additional layers of preventative protocols, including universal Covid-19 testing."

Cruise deck [Credit: Yevgen Belich/]
Photo Credit: Yevgen Belich/

More than a half-dozen lines are planning cruises for vaccinated Americans that operate outside of CDC jurisdiction.

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NCLH's Norwegian Cruise Line brand is among many that will launch sailings from ports outside of the U.S. this spring and summer.

Lawmakers from Florida to Alaska have introduced legislation -- and in some cases sued the CDC -- to lift its ban on cruising in U.S. waters.   


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