Home Travel Health Cruise Lines Meet Deadline To Join CDC Program

Cruise ships docked in Nassau, Bahamas
Cruise ships docked in Nassau, Bahamas. (photo by Patrick Clarke)

Virtually the entire cruise industry met the Friday, February 18 deadline to opt into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Cruise Ship Program.

The voluntary program asks the industry to report the vaccination status of crew and passengers on each ship so that the results can be tracked on a public dashboard. The CDC also asked for defined protocols for how cruise lines will quarantine anyone who tests positive for the virus during a voyage.

The opt-in deadline was made easier this week when the CDC not only softened those protocols on the cruise lines, but also downgraded its health warning against cruise travel from Level 4 to Level 3.

While Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Group had previously announced participation in the voluntary program, most cruise lines made announcements right on February 18.

Carnival Cruise Line has opted in, telling passengers that starting March 1 masks on board will be recommended but not required. The cruise line will continue to meet the standard of vaccinated cruises, but children under five years old will not be included in any vaccinated guest calculation, and thus will not be required to receive an exemption to sail.

“We have had a very successful restart of guest operations thanks to the support of our guests, the commitment of our shipboard team, and the effective protocols we have put in place,” Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said in a statement. “The public health situation has continued to improve, providing confidence about these changes. Our protocols will evolve as we continue to remain dedicated to protecting the public health of our guests, crew and the communities we visit.”

Princess Cruise Line also announced its intention to opt in, also starting on March 1 and with the same recommendations regarding masks and other protocols.

“Princess has proven cruise vacations are safe and healthy for our guests and teams,” John Padgett, President, Princess Cruises said in a press release. “Going forward, Princess is prepared to adjust operating protocols to ensure our guests have amazing vacations while always protecting the safety of our guests, team members and destinations.”

Seabourn and Holland America also issued statements on Friday, with the verbiage virtually the same including, “We appreciate the ongoing collaboration among multiple government agencies as well as the support of Alaska officials and other delegations.”