BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the American cruise industry to a halt. Not a single ship has left a U.S. port with passengers in more than a year.
Now, after pressure from the cruise industry, the CDC issued some guidance for what needs to happen before ships can set sail again.
"The cruise industry in Maryland has been shut down for a year due to COVID," William Doyle, Executive Director of the Maryland Port Administration, said.
Cruise ships are a crucial part of the local economy, and the absence has had an impact.
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"This is consumer-based, provides jobs when the ships come in," Doyle said.
But the waiting could soon be over.
After months of pressure from the cruise industry, the CDC issued some guidance on what needs to happen before ships could set sail again.
"It's recommending that all passengers and crews get vaccinated and plans need to be in place for testing," Doyle said.
"All the cruise lines are working toward the best protocols," Richard Fain, CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, said.
Royal Caribbean is one of the cruise lines that have routes from Baltimore.
The company's CEO says they've stepped up safety measures in other parts of the world, and it's working.
"The Royal Caribbean group alone has carried over 100,000 guests, and of that, we've only had 10 cases," Fain said.
So, what's next? The CDC says the next phase could include simulated voyages where crew members can practice safety protocols with volunteers.
The industry hopes they could set sail again by mid-July.
"And if that's the case, we are all for it," Doyle said. "As long as we can do it safely, we can get those cruise ships in and out, we are looking forward to it."
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