The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is sunsetting its Program for Cruise Ships Operating in U.S. Waters effective immediately, opting for a new set of guidelines for public health operations on cruise ships.
The CDC made the announcement on Monday, writing on its website that, “as of July 18, 2022, CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships is no longer in effect” and it will no longer update pages that tracked cases onboard ships.
The news is another major milestone in the journey away from COVID-era rules used to monitor transmission and safety in the travel industry since 2020. The CDC’s program was a hallmark of how the industry was operating during the pandemic, and was mandatory during cruising’s initial restart, with guidelines on testing, vaccination, and mask-wearing highlighting the guidelines.
The CDC transitioned from that mandatory program to a voluntary one, earlier this year, with most cruise ships operating in U.S. waters opting to stay in the program
The CDC has yet to reveal what the new guidelines will be (the agency said it will post the details on its website in the coming days).
In a statement, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) called the news “a testament to the effectiveness of the industry’s comprehensive and robust protocols.”
“The sunsetting of the CDC Program effective 18 July 2022 is a testament to the effectiveness of the industry’s comprehensive and robust protocols. In fact, cruising has become one of the safest forms of travel and among the most successful industries in mitigating the spread and severity of COVID-19, resulting in few passengers or crew becoming seriously ill or requiring hospitalization compared to hospital statistics for landside patients,” a CLIA spokesperson said.