CDC Lifts COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships

Filed under: Planning

The CDC announced today that “As of July 18, 2022, CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships is no longer in effect. CDC will continue to publish guidance to help cruise ships continue to provide a safer and healthier environment for passengers, crew and communities going forward.”

So what does this mean?

This change does give cruise lines the ability to manage their own Covid policies. However, at this time, Royal Caribbean’s Healthy Sail policies regarding testing and vaccination are all still in place with no changes and we will continue to monitor for changes and updates.

Royal Caribbean’s current policies are scheduled to be in place until September 30, 2022, unless announced otherwise.

The CDC has also removed the color coding system tracking Covid cases on ships explaining that with cruise lines now being able to set their own Covid 19 policies, a universal coding system does not provide useful guidance.

The CDC said, “The previous color-coding system under CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships depended upon each cruise line having the same COVID-19 screening testing standards, which may now vary among cruise lines. Therefore, the cruise ship color status webpage has been retired. CDC will continue to provide testing recommendations for cruise ship operators to follow and cruise ships will continue to report COVID-19 cases to CDC.”

The CDC now recommends cruise travelers contact their cruise line directly regarding outbreaks occurring on board their ship.

Does this mean we should expect to see testing and vaccine requirements lifted soon?

The return to cruising and visiting many of the islands was contingent upon the cruise lines meeting the testing and vaccination requirements of each island, so until the individual islands lift their requirements, we may see the policies remain in place.

There were previously itinerary interruptions when a ships covid, testing, or vaccination rate was not in compliance with a port and the cruise lines likely want to proceed with as few interruptions to sailings as possible.