The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended a no-sail order, halting cruise operations in U.S. waters, that it imposed last month to help stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The order will remain in effect for at least 100 days or until the Department of Health and Human Services lifts its covid-19 public-health-emergency declaration.
Cruise-line companies voluntarily suspended most ship operations from U.S. ports on March 13, and the CDC issued the no-sail order the next day.
The industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with several ships reporting outbreaks and passengers and crew members succumbing to the deadly respiratory disease.
The CDC said about 50 cruise ships are sitting offshore the U.S. East Coast and in the Bahamas, with an estimated 47,800 crew members on board. About 45 cruise ships with 32,000 crew are offshore the West Coast.
The CDC said it was aware of 15 cruise ships at port or anchored in the U.S. with known or suspected covid-19 infection among the crew who are on board. The agency is tracking two cruise ships with passengers that are expected to make port in the U.S.
"As operators of non-U.S. flagged vessels sailing in international waters, it is imperative that the cruise-ship industry and cruise lines themselves take responsibility for the care of their crew and do not further tax limited U.S. resources during a public-health emergency," the CDC statement said..
The agency said it is working with the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard to “determine the most appropriate public-health strategy to limit the impact of covid-19 at cruise-ship ports of entry in the U.S.”
"The addition of further covid-19 cases from cruise ships places health-care workers at substantial increased risk," the CDC said
"Moreover, safely evacuating, triaging and repatriating cruise-ship crew involves complex logistics, incurs financial costs at all levels of government, and diverts resources away from larger efforts to suppress or mitigate covid-19."