April 8, 2021
Alexandria, VA, April 8, 2021 – Zane Kerby, President and CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), releases the following statement in response to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) continued inaction in removing restrictions on cruise travel and Governor Ron DeSantis’s announcement that the State of Florida has filed a lawsuit against the CDC:
“Last October, CDC replaced its March 2020 “No Sail Order” with a “Framework for Conditional Sailing Order.” At the time, many in the travel industry saw it as a sign of real progress toward the resumption of cruise travel. Six months later, despite more than 170 million vaccines administered, falling infection and mortality rates in most states, political inquiry, and pressure, including a lawsuit from Florida’s Governor, the CDC has taken little substantive action and, by all appearances, maintains that cruising cannot be resumed safely.
"We find the CDC’s position singling out cruising perplexing given that nearly every other group activity one can envision - from attending sporting events to dining indoors in restaurants to visiting movie theaters and gyms, not to mention traveling by air and staying in hotels - has already resumed safely with masking requirements and social distancing protocols in place.
"With state-of-the-art medical facilities and medical staff on board, cruise lines are uniquely positioned to deal with a variety of challenges, including COVID-19. Their thorough protocols have been effective, as we have seen in both Asia and Europe, where cruising has already resumed. Out of 400,000 passengers, there have been only 50 cases of on-board infection, an exceedingly low rate, and zero fatalities. What’s more, no government assistance was needed to manage those rare instances because they were managed properly by the cruise lines and never escalated to the point of needing outside intervention.
"The CDC announced last week that those who have been vaccinated are at low risk to spread infection and can resume domestic travel as long as they adhere to social distancing and masking protocols. Why this pronouncement applies to the 1.5 million airline passengers flying every day but does not apply to those who would choose to cruise, is arbitrary and capricious. It is long past time for the CDC to issue the guidance needed to permit sailing to resume or rescind the order in its entirety, as we stated yesterday in our letter to the White House COVID-19 Recovery Team Coordinator, Jeffrey Zients.
"150,000 American travel advisors are the worldwide sales channel for the cruise industry. Accordingly, we stand with U.S. Senators Rubio, Scott, Murkowski, and Sullivan and our partners at the Cruise Lines Industry Association (CLIA) urging immediate action and express our support for the legal action to being taken by Governor DeSantis to immediately rescind the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order."
Rebranded in 2018 as the American Society of Travel Advisors, ASTA is the leading global advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public. Its members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. Together with hundreds of internationally-based members, ASTA’s history of industry advocacy traces back to its founding in 1931 when it launched with the mission to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. For more information about the Society, visit ASTA.org. Consumers can connect with an ASTA travel advisor at TravelSense.org.