Cruise lines can decide whether to join CDC COVID-19 case reporting program

New program to replace expired Conditional Sailing Order

The Norwegian Gem cruise ship is shown docked, Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, at PortMiami in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Wilfredo Lee, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Cruise lines operating in U.S. waters will choose on Friday to opt in or out of a new, voluntary COVID-19 case reporting program from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that was designed to replace its Conditional Sailing Order that expired Jan. 15.

Operators who opt-in their ships by the Friday deadline will be expected to uphold surveillance, documentation and reporting of COVID-19 cases onboard to the CDC, as well as continue subjecting them to the agency’s color-coded system that designates which cruise ships are being monitored or investigated for high case numbers.

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Ships opted-in will also be expected to have a response plan that includes protocols for defining confirmed or “COVID-19-like” cases, crew virus-prevention and mitigation training, COVID-19 testing, adequate medical capabilities and staffing, disembarkation of passengers who test positive and more. Passengers on these ships who are identified as having COVID-19 symptoms will potentially be subject to isolation and tended to following these protocols.

Cruise lines will be expected to notify the CDC Maritime Unit in writing of their decision to opt their ships in or out of the program. Any failure to notify the CDC of a decision either way will be treated as opting-out of the program, the agency said. After Friday, ships that do not join the program will be listed on the agency’s color-coded system as “Gray” ships, meaning the CDC has had no involvement in health and safety protocols onboard.

At the time of this report, 20 foreign-flagged cruise ships operating in U.S. waters have joined the program, all operated by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Ltd., according to the CDC’s color-coded dashboard.

About the Author:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.