The cruise industry is a huge draw for millions of Floridians and visitors from other US states, which is why COVID-19 no-sail orders have been devastating for people who wanted to get away on a sea adventure during 2020. As such, a recent announcement by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) comes as welcome news for anyone looking forward to a vacation. The CDC released its Conditional Sailing Order for Cruise Ships on October 30, 2020, opening the door for future sailings. In the document, the CDC outlines requirements cruise companies must follow to mitigate the risk to passengers and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
However, while the announcement may seem to be a positive development, there are still many concerns. If you contracted COVID-19 or any other illness while on board, you should discuss your legal options with a Miami cruise ship accident lawyer. Some information on the recent CDC order may also be helpful.
Phased Approach to Cruises
The CDC’s order outlines a cautious, gradual approach for cruise ships to get back to business, along with requirements to mitigate COVID-19 exposure for both passengers and crew. In addition, there are provisions intended to prevent the spread of the virus from passengers into their communities once they return home. Recognizing how quickly COVID-19 can spread in a cruise environment, the CDC framework includes:
- Requirements for “simulated” cruises, where volunteers will be on board in a sort of test scenario for cruise companies to demonstrate their ability to mitigate risks;
- Guidelines for cruise ship operators in conducting testing of passengers who report signs of illness;
- Standards for quarantining and isolating affected passengers and crew;
- A limitation on itineraries, which cannot be more than seven days; and,
- Protocols cruise companies must use in marketing their voyages, so passengers are fully aware of the implications and potential for cancellation.
Pitfalls of the CDC Guidelines Put Passengers at Risk
Based upon the results of the phased approach to cruises, operators could be accepting reservations for non-simulated voyages in a few months. While you may be eager to book, you should keep in mind that cruise companies will do everything they can to protect their own bottom line – even if that means putting passengers at risk. You should be aware of a few concerns before scheduling a cruise, such as:
- The volunteers to be used as guinea pigs during the simulated cruises will not be representative of a cross-section of normal passengers;
- Consent forms could include illegal or unenforceable waivers of liability related to COVID-19;
- CDC guidelines do not specify who pays for a passenger’s medical costs and related losses due to virus infection.
Consult Our Miami Cruise Ship Accidents Attorneys About Your Rights
Cruise lines are understandably eager to get back to business, but they may be liable if they do not take proper precautions to protect passengers from COVID-19 or other safety threats. To learn more about your legal options, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA today. We can set up a no-cost case evaluation for you at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL.