(3 p.m. EDT) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have revealed that passengers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will not need to complete previously-outlined requirements for PCR testing at embarkation and disembarkation.
That bodes well for fully vaccinated travellers looking to set sail from U.S. ports of call when cruising resumes, with the move further simplifying the process for passengers to return to the seas.
Under the CDC's Framework for Conditional Sailing, all passengers were to be required to participate in COVID-19 PCR viral testing at embarkation and 24 hours prior to disembarkation.
The CDC is still requiring any non-vaccinated passengers to complete these PCR tests as a condition of joining the voyage, but the organization updated its guidance on May 18 to remove testing requirements for passengers who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Passengers returning to the U.S. from overseas by air are also still required to take a PCR test.
It is the latest in a line of steps that continue to make setting sail easier for those passengers who can provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. The CDC has said that lines that require vaccines for 95 percent of their passengers can bypass the test cruise process.
Many cruise lines are mandating full vaccine compliance as a condition of restarting limited operations, although a few have only required it from certain ports and countries.
Carnival Cruise Line, for example, has stated they will not mandate vaccinations when sailings resume. Yet they will doing just that when they resume sailings from Seattle to Alaska on Carnival Miracle in July.
Passengers travelling on a ship who are fully vaccinated could also find they have an easier experience overall, with the removal of PCR testing requirements onboard.
The CDC recently announced that Americans who have been fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks in public spaces. Though the same ruling has not been announced for cruises departing from the U.S., the agency's decision on land could set a precedent for vaccinated passengers to remove their masks at sea.
Celebrity, which has a vaccine mandate in place, has already said that it will not require masks in most places onboard on its cruises sailing from St. Maarten.
Cruise Critic will update this article as more guidance becomes available.