According to its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will issue new guidelines soon for how cruise ships – including those that host LGBTQ+ voyages like VACAYA – should mitigate and manage COVID-19 transmission. Yesterday, the CDC suspended its COVID-19 Program for cruise ships, which was a set of cruise guidelines on the mitigation and management of COVID-19, disease-specific management of ill passengers/crew, and the reporting of illness and death.
Travelers will have access to its recommendations that will allow them to make informed decisions about cruise travel, according to the CDC’s website. Travelers should contact their specific cruise lines directly for information regarding outbreaks onboard ships. Previously, this was part of the CDC’s responsibility. The agency will continue providing testing recommendations for cruise ship operators to follow and cruise ships will continue reporting COVID-19 cases to the CDC.
Even though cruising poses some risk of COVID-19 transmission, the CDC will continue to publish guidance to help cruise operators provide a safer and healthier environment for crew members, passengers, and communities going forward. The national public health agency has worked closely with the federal, state, territorial, and local health authorities, the cruise industry, and seaport partners to help keep passengers and crew safe while traveling.
Along with the aforementioned program suspension, CDC has eliminated the color-coded system used to classify the COVID-19 cases onboard all cruise ships. The CDC decided to shelve the helpful classification tool because the previous color-coded system – under the COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships – depended on each cruise line having the same COVID-19 screening and testing standards, which may now vary among cruise operators. So, the cruise ship color status webpage was eliminated. That being said, the 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 addition to this, the CDC has advised travelers to contact their cruise lines directly for information regarding outbreaks on board their ships when previously this fell into the domain of the CDC.
Reactions to the updated guidelines are mixed as COVID cases increase due to the spread of the new Omicron subvariant (BA.5). As people get out and travel again, it was only a matter of time before CDC would rollback guidelines imposed on the travel industry after two years of recommended restrictions.