Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson called out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on its guidelines for cruise ships on the same day the Carnival Sensation made its first stop in the Port City.
“I think it has been onerous and I think it has been heavy-handed when you look at what’s going on in the airline industry and all,” Stimpson told a gaggle of reporters as the Sensation was docking at the Mobile, Alabama Cruise Terminal. “I can tell you because of our constant communication with Carnival that we know the protocols they have in place, we know the tests. They have nurses on board. They are going to have everything they need on board to take care of people, to protect them and also to get them off the ship if they need it.”
The CDC has moved away from an all out prohibition against cruises and instead has instituted a phased approach to new bookings. But Carnival has previously called even the new approach “unworkable.”
The CDC phases include: the establishment of lab testing of crew onboard cruise ships in U.S. waters; simulated voyages designed to test a cruise ship operators’ ability to mitigate COVID-19; and a certification process and a return to passenger voyages in a manner that mitigates the risk of COVID-19 introduction, transmission or spread among crew and passengers aboard ships, according to the order.
The Sensation arrived in Mobile Friday morning to a celebration that included the Excelsior Band, Azalea Trail Maids and USS Alabama Crewmates. The ship docked to allow USA Health employees to vaccinate the 110 crew members onboard against COVID-19. As for when the ship could again take passengers on cruises, Stimpson said he doesn’t know.
The Sensation was the ship destined to replace the Fantasy in Mobile before the COVID-19 pandemic struck more than a year ago. Officials believe the ship will eventually sail out of Mobile at some point in the near future.
Although he spoke out against the CDC rules on Friday, Stimpson stopped short of saying Alabama should join other states, like Florida, Alaska and Texas in suing the entity over the rules. Instead, Stimpson said he wanted to focus on what Mobile could do for Carnival.
“I’d say what we’re doing in Mobile is we’re doing everything to make sure Carnival understands that we are a great partner,” he said. “That’s what we’re focusing on.”
Stimpson did see the CDC’s new guidelines for vaccinated Americans as a positive step toward possibly changing course on cruises.
“I don’t know if that portends that you’re going to see the CDC address cruising again, but you could speculate that’s in the near future,” Stimpson said.
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