Norwegian has announced it aims to resume sailing to the U.S. this summer. Sounds good, in theory, but obstacles still remain before travelers can hop aboard.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd said on Monday it would return to sailing in the United States from Aug. 7, more than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic brought the industry to a virtual standstill.
The restart of cruising in the United States is contingent on obtaining a conditional sailing certificate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the company said, adding it expected approval in the coming days.
Norwegian Cruise had earlier planned to restart U.S. sailing in July, but later said the time needed to prepare its ships after receiving the go-ahead from the CDC could delay the restart.
Rivals Carnival Corp and Royal Caribbean Group last week said they also planned to return to sailing in the United States, starting in July.
The announcements came after the U.S. health agency began a key step for the eventual resumption of U.S. cruise industry operations by issuing new technical instructions, such as starting simulated trips and applying for a COVID-19 conditional sailing certificate.
Simulated voyages allow crew and port personnel to practice new COVID-19 operational procedures with volunteers before sailing with passengers.
Cruise companies have been sailing on and off in Europe and Singapore in the last few months.
(Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni and Sriraj Kalluvila)
Photo credit: Norwegian Cruise Line plans to set sail for the United States after more than a year away from the open seas. Piergiuliano Chesi / Wikimedia