(4 p.m. EDT) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced an update to its COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships Operating in U.S. Waters by dropping the cruise ship threshold for "Highly Vaccinated" status from 95% of passengers to 90% of passengers (5 years of age and older).
Additionally, the CDC announced that isolation rooms no longer need to have negative pressure but must still be in predesignated areas. The exception to transferring individuals to predesignated cabins if within 36 hours of disembarkation remains in effect.
This latest update comes less than two months after the CDC lowered its COVID-19 Travel Health Notice for cruise ships to Level 2: Moderate
The CDC's COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships, which has been adopted by most cruise lines, classifies ships with less than 90% passengers and 95% crew who are fully vaccinated as "Not Highly Vaccinated." Alternatively, cruise ships with at least 90% passengers and 95% crew who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines are given a Vaccination Standard of Excellence status.
In a statement, Cruise Lines International Association applauded the CDC's decision, heralding it as recognition of the highly protective measures in place onboard cruise ships.
"CLIA-member cruise lines continue to provide one of the highest levels of COVID-19 mitigation for the traveling public with higher-vaccination rates and higher frequency of testing than most any other setting. We look forward to the further development of the program to bring greater alignment across the travel and tourism sector."
Related, the CDC also recently provided new recommendations for masks during travel. Acknowledging that the Federal Mask Mandate is no longer in effect, the CDC recommends that everyone aged 2 and older -- including passengers and workers -- properly wear a well-fitting mask or respirator over the nose and mouth in indoor areas of public transportation and transportation hubs, including cruise ports. Port Authorities and local health officials may still independently maintain mask requirements.