Clia has urged the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to lift its framework for conditional sailing order (CSO) and allow the sector to plan for a phased resumption of cruise operations from US ports by the start of July.
The association said this would dovetail with President Biden’s forecast for when life in the US would be "closer to normal"; president and chief executive Kelly Craighead said the "highly-controlled" resumption of cruising in Europe, Asia and the South Pacific had proved it was possible.
"These voyages were successfully completed with industry-leading protocols that effectively mitigated the spread of Covid-19," said Craighead, who noted plans for further sailings in the Mediterranean and Caribbean during spring and into summer.
Craighead said the CDC order no longer reflected operational realities thanks to a combination of an accelerated vaccination programme and better Covid mitigations and protocols.
"The cruise industry has adopted a high bar for resumption around the world with a multi-layered set of policies intended to be revised as conditions change," said Craighead. "Our members continue to follow this multi-layered approach to enhancing health and safety that has proven effective, making cruising one of the best and most adaptable choices."
Following the industry’s decision to voluntarily suspend cruise operations a year ago, lines have been prevented from operating in the US by a series of "no sail orders" issued by the CDC.The last of these was issued last October when it was replaced by the framework for conditional sailing order, which has remained in situ since.
"Since then, the CDC has not released any further guidance to support the resumption of US cruise operations," said Clia. "The lack of any action by the CDC has effectively banned all sailings in the largest cruise market in the world.
"Cruising is the only sector of the US economy that remains prohibited, even as most others have opened or continued to operate throughout the pandemic."
Craighead added: "The outdated CSO, which was issued almost five months ago, does not reflect the industry’s proven advancements and success operating in other parts of the world, nor the advent of vaccines, and unfairly treats cruises differently.
"Cruise lines should be treated the same as other travel, tourism, hospitality, and entertainment sectors.
Clia said it had no defined policy on vaccination, adding members were "exploring a workable approach for how to consider vaccinations, once widely available, as part of robust protocols".
The association said restarting cruise would provide a much-needed economic boost, with the sector supporting nearly 450,000 jobs pre-pandemic.