CDC Issues New Cruise Warning for High Risk Passengers, Revises Mask Guidance

CDC issues new guidance for cruise ship passengers. - Photo by Canva

On Friday, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued new passenger and mask guidance. The agency has now stated that individuals who are considered at high risk of severe complications from COVID-19 should completely avoid cruise ship travel, including river cruise ships, regardless of an individual’s vaccination status. 

The new guidance covers older adults, people with certain medical conditions, and pregnant individuals. Prior to this announcement, the CDC recommended that only people who were not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 avoid cruise ship travel.

In addition, the agency has provided new guidance for mask-wearing on cruise ships. Its new recommendation states, “People on cruise ships should wear a mask to keep their nose and mouth covered when in shared spaces. While CDC’s Mask Order is not being enforced on cruise ships, individual cruise lines may require travelers (passengers and crew) to wear masks indoors on board the ship.”

This update from the CDC comes on the heels of cruising restarting from several ports around the U.S. from most major cruise lines. Each individual line currently has its own policies regarding mask wearing for indoor and outdoor spaces, as well as for private island port stops. 

Carnival Cruise Line’s current policy on mask-wearing states, “We strongly encourage all guests to wear face masks when indoors, particularly guests who are unvaccinated, including children under the age of 12 who should wear masks in public areas, except when eating or drinking. All guests age 2 and older will be required to wear face masks in elevators and in designated indoor entertainment areas, all retail shops, and in the casino, except when eating or drinking. Guests will be required to wear face masks prior to being seated in our main dining rooms and in the Lido Buffet area and occasionally in other designated areas where a larger number of guests may congregate.” Holland America Line and Princess Cruises, also part of the Carnival Corporation, have similar mask-wearing policies for all sailings after August 4, 2021. 

Royal Caribbean’s mask policy (currently for cruises in August and September) states all guests ages two and up (regardless of vaccination status) must “wear a mask while indoors onboard the ship, unless seated and actively eating or drinking or when visiting public ports of call, where local regulations may require them.” Masks do not have to be worn in open-air areas of the ship (unless in a crowded setting), at venues designated for vaccinated guests only (select bars, lounges, restaurants and shows), in one’s stateroom, or at Perfect Day at CocoCay, unless in a crowded setting. 

Norwegian Cruise Line’s current policy states, “Our cruises will operate with 100% vaccination of guests and crew through December 31 2021, therefore face coverings are not required for cruises prior to December 31, 2021.” 

As this guidance from the CDC is newly released, we recommend checking in with your cruise line regarding all health and safety protocols prior to sailing.  

Read the Full CDC COVID-19 and Cruise Ship Travel Guidance

This is a breaking news story. We will continue to provide updated information as it becomes available. 

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