• Help Ukrainian Families in Need: World Central Kitchen Donation Match
  • Newsletter
  • Write a Review
  • Boards
  • Deals
  • Find a Cruise
  • Reviews
  • News
  • Cruise Tips
You may also like
Dismiss
Returning Cruise Ship Passengers in U.S. Barred from Flying Commercial Domestic Airlines
Returning Cruise Ship Passengers in U.S. Barred from Flying Commercial Domestic Airlines
CDC Ends Cruise COVID-19 Program, Removes Color-Coded Cruise Ship Chart
The CDC in Atlanta, Georgia (Photo: bear_productions/Shutterstock.com)

CDC Ends Cruise COVID-19 Program, Removes Color-Coded Cruise Ship Chart

CDC Ends Cruise COVID-19 Program, Removes Color-Coded Cruise Ship Chart
The CDC in Atlanta, Georgia (Photo: bear_productions/Shutterstock.com)

July 18, 2022

Chris Gray Faust
Managing Editor
Jorge Oliver
Contributor
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter

(5 p.m. EDT) -- Effective July 18, the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention said its current COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships -- a set of regulations and guidelines for the cruise industry in the United States -- is "no longer in effect."

The move also gets rid of the color-coded chart that documented the status of COVID-19 outbreaks on individual cruise ships.

It’s unclear what else has changed regarding required COVID-19 protocols that cruise lines sailing in the U.S. will have to follow; the CDC noted that "new guidance for cruise ships to mitigate and manage COVID-19 transmission will be available in the coming days."

In an FAQ on its site, the agency noted that the CDC will still provide testing recommendations to cruise lines and that the lines will continue to report COVID-19 cases to the CDC.

But recommendations are much different than the recent set of requirements, which required a high percentage of vaccinated passengers, as well as pre-boarding tests and -- if cases onboard reached a certain level -- masking requirements. These regulations have been in place by CDC since cruising resumed in the U.S. in 2021.

The CDC Statement on the Cruise Program Change

On its website, the agency said that the color-coding system depended on each cruise line having the same COVID-19 screening testing standards, which now vary among cruise lines.

In addition, the agency said that cruise lines have tools to "manage their own COVID-19 mitigation programs."

In an email, CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund released the following statement:  

"Over the past two years, CDC has worked closely with the cruise industry, state, territorial, and local health authorities, and federal and seaport partners to provide a safer and healthier environment for cruise passengers and crew. CDC has determined that the cruise industry has access to the necessary tools (e.g., cruise-specific recommendations and guidance, vaccinations, testing instruments, treatment modalities, and non-pharmaceutical interventions) to prevent and mitigate COVID-19 on board. Therefore, CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships is no longer in effect as of today. 

"Going forward, CDC will continue to publish cruise-specific guidance so cruise ships can continue to provide a safer and healthier environment for crew, passengers, and communities. Individual cruise lines will determine their own specific COVID-19-related requirements for cruise travel, as well as safety measures and protocols for passengers traveling on board based on CDC recommendations for reducing the risk of COVID-19.

"Cruise travelers should contact their cruise line directly for more information regarding the protocols and procedures for COVID-19 safety, which may vary among cruise lines.

"While cruising poses some risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers can make their own risk assessment when choosing to cruise, much like they do in other settings. CDC continues to recommend that cruise travelers remain up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines and get tested for COVID-19 before and after they travel, and after any known exposure to a person with COVID-19. CDC also continues to recommend mask wearing in indoor travel settings."

CLIA Issues Statement on COVID-19 Changes for Cruises

The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) said that it was awaiting further details. In the meantime, the advocacy organization issued the following statement:

“The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and its member cruise lines welcome the decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to end the CDC COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships Operating in U.S. Waters in favor of a set of guidelines for public health operations on cruise ships. We look forward to reviewing the details, which we understand will be posted on the CDC website in the coming days. This is an important step forward in the CDC aligning the guidelines for cruise with those it has established for other travel, hospitality, and entertainment sectors. 

"The sunsetting of the CDC Program effective 18 July 2022 is a testament to the effectiveness of the industry’s comprehensive and robust protocols. In fact, cruising has become one of the safest forms of travel and among the most successful industries in mitigating the spread and severity of COVID-19, resulting in few passengers or crew becoming seriously ill or requiring hospitalization compared to hospital statistics for landside patients.”

Cruise Critic Members React to CDC Cruise News

The change in the CDC's protocols was immediately shared on Cruise Critic's message boards, where members reacted mostly positively to the news.

Cruisers with upcoming trips wondered how quickly cruise lines would react to the CDC's update and whether or not their sailings would be affected. Others offered some speculative insight about next steps.

"Just heard that the cruise lines are meeting tomorrow morning. Looks like they may be trying to (reach) a consensus on how to proceed," posted Ourusualbeach.

The announcement also generated some questions from members who were unsure how cruise lines will update their own COVID protocols.

"I’m wondering what impact that will have on COVID assistance plans. No need to reimburse if quarantine is no longer required," wrote Babr. "Does that mean plans expire, and we return to standard cancellation policies?"

"My thoughts are that cruise lines will stop limiting non-vaxxed passengers but maintain the testing in order to meet destination ports guidelines," added crewsweeper.

Cruise Critic will continue to update this story with more information as it becomes available.

How was this article?

Top 15 deals today

1
$751 - 7Nt Bermuda Balcony: exclusive free tips & up to $1500 OBC + 40% off, free drinks & more
3
$613 - 7Nt Bahamas Balcony: exclusive up to $1550 OBC & free specialty dinner + 30 % off & kids sail free
Want to cruise smarter?
Get expert advice, insider tips and more.
By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy and Cookies Statement and Terms of Use.