The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the American cruise industry to a halt. Not a single ship has left a U.S. port with passengers in more than a year.
NICOLE BAKER: Bringing the industry to a halt, thanks for staying with WJZ tonight. I'm Nicole Baker.
RICK RITTER: And I'm Rick Ritter. The coronavirus has impacted just about everything. And that, of course, includes the cruise industry. Not a single ship has left a US port with passengers in more than a year now.
NICOLE BAKER: Yeah, and right now, after pressure from the cruise industry, the CDC is issuing some brand new guidance for what needs to happen before those ships can actually set sail again. Avajoye Burnett explains.
AVAJOYE BURNETT: It's been well over a year since a cruise ship with vacationers has set sail from the Port of Baltimore or any other US port.
WILLIAM DOYLE: Well, the cruise industry in Maryland has been shut down for about a year due to COVID.
AVAJOYE BURNETT: Cruise ships are a crucial part of the local economy. And the absence has had an impact.
WILLIAM DOYLE: This is consumer based. It provides jobs when the ships come in.
AVAJOYE BURNETT: But the waiting could soon be over. After months of pressure from the cruise industry, the CDC issued some guidance on what needs to happen before cruise ships could set sail once again. It's recommending that all passengers and cruise get vaccinated and plans need to be in place for testing.
- All the cruise lines are working towards the best protocols.
AVAJOYE BURNETT: Royal Caribbean is one of the cruise lines that has roots from Baltimore. The company's CEO says they stepped up safety measures in other parts of the world. And it's working.
- The Royal Caribbean group alone has carried over 100,000 guests. And of that, we've only had 10 cases. The CDC says the next phase could include simulated voyages where crew members can practice safety protocols with volunteers. The industry hopes that they could set sail once again by mid-July.
WILLIAM DOYLE: And if that's the case, then we're all for it. As long as we can do it safely, we can get those cruise ships in and out. We're looking forward to it.
AVAJOYE BURNETT: In Baltimore, Avajoye Burnett for WJZ.