Will Cruise Lines Shut Down Again? A Comprehensive Look at CDC Guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that cruise ships operating in U. S. waters participate in the CDC's COVID-19 program for cruise ships. The Temporary Extension & Amendment to the CSO will remain in effect until as soon as possible.

After the expiration of the Temporary Extension & Modification of the CSO, CDC intends to transition to a voluntary program, in coordination with cruise ship operators and other interested parties, to assist the cruise ship shipping industry to detect, mitigate and control the spread of COVID-19 on board cruise ships. This Order will remain in effect until, at the earliest. The vaccination status thresholds for cruise ships have been changed from 95% of passengers to 90% of. Cruise ships with a “gray color” status are foreign-flagged cruise ships that operate in U.

waters that have chosen not to participate in CDC's COVID-19 program for cruise ships. These ships may have their own health and safety protocols related to COVID-19, which CDC has not reviewed or confirmed. CDC cannot confirm public health measures against COVID-19 implemented on ships designated “gray”. Therefore, CDC has no information on precautions and interventions, such as the use of masks, crew testing, or the vaccination status of travelers on these ships.

CDC models, which included data from COVID-19 testing on the day of boarding, showed that reducing vaccination status thresholds from 95% of passengers to 90% should not increase the risk of introducing COVID-19 on board. This is because passengers who are not fully vaccinated must be tested for COVID-19 on the day of boarding (while fully vaccinated passengers are tested before the day of boarding, rather than the day of boarding). Since an additional 5% of passengers who are not fully vaccinated will need to be tested the same day before boarding the ship, these passengers are unlikely to introduce COVID-19 on board. This change reinforces that testing remains essential to identify cases of COVID-19 before boarding a cruise ship.

While CDC has lowered this vaccination threshold, CDC continues to recommend that passengers and crew be up to date with COVID-19 vaccines. Cruise travel always poses a risk, and vaccination remains the best way to protect against COVID-19, including serious illness, hospitalization and death. When a cruise ship notifies CDC of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board, CDC determines if an investigation is necessary based on a predetermined investigation threshold described below. CDC will continue to monitor the pandemic, working closely with cruise lines and state, territorial and local health partners, and will consider multiple factors to determine if and when the threshold criteria should be reviewed.

The research threshold was developed based on several factors, including the need for transparency and the recognition that cruise ships are not a zero-risk activity. This research threshold gives CDC and the cruise industry the ability to work closely together to protect the health and safety of people onboard and in communities. CDC's goals for establishing the threshold included reducing the continuous transmission of COVID-19 between trips and ensuring that onboard medical resources are not overwhelmed. This threshold may be modified for future trips depending on lessons learned from passenger travel, the evolution of the pandemic, or other factors.

If a cruise ship participating in the CDC COVID-19 Cruise Program is designated as “Orange”, the ship meets the CDC research threshold. The CDC notifies the cruise ship of the color condition and reminds them of CDC guidelines on preventive measures. CDC will investigate cruise ships that reach the COVID-19 investigation threshold among crew or passengers. As part of the investigation, CDC will obtain additional information from the cruise ship, such as the history of cases of exposure, details about close contacts, the proportion of travelers on board who are vaccinated against COVID-19, and medical resources on board.

CDC will work closely with the cruise line and will consider multiple factors (e.g., given high transmission rates during the COVID-19 pandemic). CDC currently recommends that all people avoid traveling on cruise ships, including river cruises around the world regardless of their vaccination status. However, if you're planning to travel on a cruise ship it's important to know what these color designations mean. Cruise ships with “gray color” status have chosen not to participate in CDC's COVID-19 Cruise Program.

This designation means that CDC has not reviewed or confirmed cruise ship operator health and safety protocols related to COVID-19; therefore, CDC has no information on precautions and interventions such as use of masks, crew testing or vaccination status of these ships. CDC modified its color coding system for its COVID-19 Cruise Program to align it with its revised research threshold; colors “orange” and “yellow” were reversed to make it a more logical order of colors. As part of its program, testing is meant to quickly identify cases of COVID-19 (and test/quarantine close contacts who may or may not be vaccinated against COVID-19) in order to prevent continued transmission between trips. The color coding system applies to foreign flagged cruise ships currently operating in U.

S waters or planning to return operation in waterways subject to U. S jurisdiction regardless if they have chosen to participate in its program; it also applies to U. S flagged vessels if they meet certain criteria such as carrying 250+ passengers/crew members with an itinerary including one night stay onboard or 24 hour stay onboard for passengers/crew members.

Kathryn Babena
Kathryn Babena

Evil organizer. Infuriatingly humble internet ninja. Infuriatingly humble webaholic. Certified internet aficionado. Infuriatingly humble beeraholic. Total tv enthusiast.

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