CDC COVID-19 guidance to become optional for cruise lines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for cruise lines will expire on Saturday, allowing those in the cruise business to choose whether they want to operate under the agency’s guidance on sailing or not.

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The agency’s “Framework for Conditional Sailing Order,” which cruise lines have operated under since March of 2020, will become voluntary for cruise lines.

“Cruise ships operating in U.S. waters choosing to participate in the program on a voluntary basis agree to follow all recommendations and guidance issued by CDC as part of this program,” the CDC guidance reads.

Cruise lines that choose not to follow the guidance will be classified as “gray” on the CDC’s “Cruise Ship Color Status” website. The classification indicates the CDC hasn’t reviewed the health and safety protocols the cruise line uses.

Cruise Lines International Association said in a statement Wednesday that the news means the CDC recognizes the industry’s efforts to make sailing safer:

“Today’s announcement by the CDC regarding the planned transition of the Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) to a voluntary program recognizes the cruise industry’s unwavering commitment to providing some of the highest levels of COVID-19 mitigation found in any industry.

“Cruise is the only segment of travel and tourism that requires, prior to embarkation for both passengers and crew, exceedingly high levels of vaccination (approaching 100 percent compared to only 63 percent of the U.S. population) and 100 percent testing of every individual (21 times the rate of the U.S. on land).”

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