Cruise ships will be the 'safest place on earth' when they relaunch, Norwegian Cruise Line CEO says

  • Frank Del Rio, Norwegian Cruise Line parent CEO, told CNBC that cruises will become “the safest place on earth.”
  • On Monday, Norwegian sent a letter to the CDC detailing its plans to resume cruising from the US by July.
  • This includes mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for both guests and crew.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Frank Del Rio, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ president and CEO, says cruise ships will “become the safest place on earth” as cruise like Norwegian continue to ramp up health protocols, Del Rio told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Mad Money” on Monday.

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On Monday, Norwegian Cruise Lines Holding sent a letter to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detailing its plans to safely resume cruising from US ports by July 4. This July return would be several months sooner than the CDC’s current cruising return timeline of November 1 as stated in the agency’s Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, a list of protocols needed for cruises to safely resume operations.

Part of Norwegian’s return to sailing plan includes a sweeping COVID-19 vaccine mandate for both guests and crew aboard Norwegian’s three brands: Norwegian, Oceania, and Regent Seven Seas. The ships will also initially operate at a reduced capacity, and will implement several other health protocols to create a “safe, ‘bubble-like’ environment.”

Read more: Norwegian Cruise Line starts 3-month furloughs for corporate employees in a push to cut costs

“I challenge you to tell me of another venue anywhere that has this kind of ironclad health and safety protocols in place,” Del Rio told CNBC’s Cramer on Monday. “Cruise ships will de facto become the safest place on earth.”

Three days before Norwegian announced this COVID-19 vaccine requirement, the CDC said fully vaccinated people could safely travel in the US without quarantining or testing. That same day, the agency also issued the “next phase” of its Conditional Sailing Order, which was initially unveiled in October 2020 to replace the initial no-sail order.

In the new update, the CDC called on cruise companies to create a timeline to vaccinate crew members and port workers. However, it shied away from enforcing an industry-wide vaccine mandate and didn’t push the return of cruising to a sooner date, the latter a direct request from the cruise industry.

“It’s time to get back to cruising,” Del Rio told CNBC’s Cramer. “We have a solid plan … I don’t want to say that I’m daring the CDC to do anything, but I want to hear any feedback that suggests that this is not the best way to come back and cruise again.”

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