Morgan Hines USA TODAY - October 7, 2020
Cruise lines around the world have committed to testing every passenger and crew member for COVID-19 before boarding, the industry's leading trade group, Cruise Lines International Association, said Tuesday.
"CLIA ocean cruise line members worldwide have agreed to conduct 100% testing of passengers and crew on all ships with a capacity to carry 250 or more persons – with a negative test required for any embarkation," Bari Golin-Blaugrund, vice president of strategic communications for Cruise Lines International Association, told USA TODAY in a statement.
"The global policy applies to ships capable of carrying 250 or more people, which is consistent with the policy in place as it relates to ships sailing from U.S. ports," Golin-Blaugrund said.
The CDC's "no-sail" order bars ships that can carry at least 250 passengers from cruising in U.S. waters until Nov. 1. The testing requirement is "effective immediately worldwide," Golin-Blaugrund said.
CLIA's member lines carry 95% of the world's oceangoing cruisers.
The cruise industry is the first in the travel and tourism sector to commit to worldwide pre-embarkation testing of all passengers and crew. Several airlines have announced testing initiatives, but not on an industry-wide basis.
"We see testing as an important initial step to a multi-layered approach that we believe validates the industry’s commitment to making health, safety, and the well-being of the passengers, the crew, and the communities we visit our top priority," Golin-Blaugrund said.
The cruise lines association did not specify whether it would use rapid or PCR (nasal swab) testing or whether passengers will be tested several days before they arrive at the port.
Cruisers reacted to the news when posted on social media.
Cruise YouTuber couple Cruise with Ben & David responded positively, noting they hope to get back to sea soon with a retweet of the news.
"Great to see but why are cruise being made to do things other forms of travel don't have to?" they wrote on Twitter. "We could literally get on a 4-hour flight and sit 3 inches next to a complete stranger with no test or even temperature check! Crazy days, we just hope cruise & travel will be back soon!"
Stuart Falk responded to the duo with skepticism.
"Such quick result tests in any case are proven to be unreliable and don't pick up COVID-19 in its first several days of infection," Falk wrote. "Bottom line: No one should travel, particularly unnecessary leisure travel, until the CDC and their personal physicians tell give the all clear."
Another cruiser responded to the cruise association's Instagram post that shared the news.
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