Coronavirus: CDC ends COVID-19 monitoring program for cruise ships

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday that it has ended its COVID-19 monitoring program for cruise ships.

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The agency posted a notice on its website for cruise travel, announcing the end of the program that had used a color-coded chart to indicate the level of COVID-19 spread on ships.

“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 agency’s website read. “Cruise ships have access to guidance and tools to manage their own COVID-19 mitigation programs.”

The cancellation of the program comes six months after the CDC turned the mandatory rules that cruise lines had to follow during the pandemic into recommendations. Those rules included vaccination requirements, among other measures.

According to the CDC, the program was canceled because it “depended upon each cruise line having the same COVID-19 screening testing standards, which may now vary among cruise lines,” the agency’s website explained.

Cruise lines will continue to report coronavirus cases to the agency.

Anne Madison, a spokesperson for Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), said the association will be looking for new guidance from the CDC later this week.

“We look forward to reviewing the details, which we understand will be posted on the CDC website in the coming days,” Madison told The Washington Post. “This is an important step forward in the CDC aligning the guidelines for cruise with those it has established for other travel, hospitality and entertainment sectors.”

Most cruise lines require passengers to be tested prior to cruises.

Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises all require pre-boarding testing.

Last month, the CLIA asked the CDC to review the pre-cruise testing rules.

“As the CDC monitors the improving health landscape and works with airlines to support a smooth transition with the lifting of the pre-arrival testing requirement, we believe a review of pre-embarkation testing requirements for cruise travelers is also in order.”