The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention abruptly ended its COVID-19 guidance program for cruise lines on Monday.
Posting the statement to its information page for cruise travelers on its website, the familiar color-coded program has been shut down. The CDC states it will continue to publish guidance for those seeking to go on cruise ships, though.
“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,” reads a statement on the CDC website. “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.”
In its FAQ section, the CDC said travelers with COVID-19 outbreak concerns should contact individual cruise lines, although lines will continue to report cases to the CDC.
For now, cruise lines continue to require most passengers to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination and negative COVID-19 tests before sailing.
“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,” the CDC stated. “Cruise ships have access to guidance and tools to manage their own COVID-19 mitigation programs.
“Additionally, cruise travelers have access to recommendations that allow them to make informed decisions about cruise ship travel. While cruising poses some risk of COVID-19 transmission, CDC will continue to publish guidance to help cruise ships continue to provide a safer and healthier environment for crew, passengers, and communities going forward.”
The industry was shut down for nearly a year and a half after the pandemic exploded in March 2020, with several outbreaks centered on cruise ships. The industry worked with the CDC to develop dozens of safety measures in an effort to get cruise lines back up and running, and out from under a no-sail order from the CDC.
The first ships began sailing from the U.S. in summer 2021, and only recently have cruise lines returned most of their fleets to service, having slowly brought more and more ships online.