CDC's conditional sailing order expires. COVID-19 guidance for cruise ships becomes optional

   January 14, 2022 ,   Cruise Industry

The USA's CDC agency's (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's) COVID guidance will soon become optional for a lot of cruise ships.

When the Center's extended conditional sailing order expires on Saturday, January 15, the agency is transitioning to a voluntary program for foreign-flagged liners operating in US waters.

The transition comes ~2 weeks after the agency bumped cruising up to the highest-risk level in its travel notices, advising tourists to avoid cruises regardless of their vaccination status.

As of January 12, 2022, all of the vessels carrying passengers that are currently monitored under CDC's "cruise ship color status system" were listed as yellow, indicating that the volume of Coronavirus cases reported has met the CDC's threshold for investigation.

Green, orange, yellow and red designations indicate the ship's COVID situation (best to worst). A gray designation is reserved for vessels that the CDC has not reviewed for Corona safety.

During a Senate committee hearing on January 11, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska asked about the CDC's order on behalf of businesses counting on the summer tourism season.

Rochelle Walensky (CDC's Director) said:

"I think the conditional sail order and the fact that the industry has stepped up and is now interested in doing and exceeding, as you know, the compliance with the sail order without the order even necessarily needing to be in place is a real testimony to how well that has worked."

She noted that over the last couple of weeks, the CDC had seen "a thirtyfold increase in cases on ships during this season because of Omicron."