CDC Relaxes Some Rules for Vaccinated Cruise Passengers

There’s great news this morning for cruisers who are fully vaccinated! In last weeks Technical Instructions for Simulated Voyages by Cruise Ship Operators under CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, the CDC outlined exactly what needs to happen for cruise lines to begin operating simulated voyages.

Many in the cruise industry saw this set of guidelines as overly restrictive, particularly when it came to the requirements for those fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In particular, the CDC’s requirement for how long guests could remove masks while eating and drinking was a point of contention for cruisers and cruise lines alike. The most recent update relaxes some of those requirements in terms of mask wearing. 

The update states that cruise lines “at their discretion, may advise passengers and crew that — if they are fully vaccinated — they may gather or conduct activities outdoors, including engaging in extended meal service or beverage consumption, without wearing a mask except in crowded settings.”

RELATED: CDC Releases Technical Instructions for Simulated Voyages

The update also allows those fully vaccinated to explore ports without being on an official shore excursion sanctioned by the cruise line. However, passengers still must take into consideration the local government ordinances wherever they’re exploring so if mask wearing is required, that rule supersedes the CDC and cruise line’s requirements. 

Considering that every guest on board a simulated cruise must be vaccinated against COVID-19, the new rules are a breath of fresh air for everyone involved. 

No Masks Necessary at Perfect Day at CocoCay 

Cruise lines wasted no time updating their protocols. A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean International announced that masks would not be required while passengers are at Perfect Day at CocoCay, the cruise line’s private island resort in the Bahamas. 

The CDC is clearly listening to the complaints of cruisers and cruise lines, but whether or not they allow cruises to resume operation from American ports anytime remains up in the air. Cruises are set to begin operation in the Caribbean in the coming months so hopefully a string of successful sailings much like those in Europe for the past six months will convince the CDC that cruising can be done safely during a pandemic.