CDC ends cruise ship Covid-19 programme

In a surprise and sudden move, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Tuesday evening July 19th that its Covid-19 Programme for Cruise Ships was no longer in effect.

CDC said that it would continue to provide guidance to the cruise lines and travellers.

Going forward, the CDC said that cruise ships would have access to guidance and tools that would help them manage their own Covid-19 mitigation programmes.

The CDC permitted cruise ships to resume sailing from US ports only in the summer of 2021, while warning travellers of the high risk of infection on cruise ships and maintaining advisories against cruise travel.

Earlier this year the CDC moved to a voluntary programme in 2022, in which all of the major cruise ships sailing from the US elected to participate. This saw the cruise companies continuing to report outbreaks of the virus.

As part of the process the CDC was operating a colour-coding system to highlight ships that had recently experienced outbreaks of the virus. This system was recently showing that most ships had experienced cases of Covid-19 on board.

“The previous color-coding system under CDC’s Covid-19 Programme 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 colour status webpage has been retired,” the CDC said.

The CDC continues to warn travellers of the dangers and continues to advise passengers that they should not travel if they recently experienced Covid-19 symptoms and should test no more than three days before their cruise and between three and five days after their cruise. These also continue to advise on frequent handwashing and the use of masks in crowded locations.

Some cruise companies recently announced they would be ending  pre-testing requirements for some trips, although the protocols for isolating passengers who test positive were likely to remain in place indefinitely.