By Dana Malcolm
In a sharp turn since cruises reopened in December, when ships were mandated to track their COVID cases and update the CDC, the opposite is now the case after ships’ conditional sailing order ended.
Cruise lines are no longer required to report every COVID-19 case, only deaths. In addition, COVID testing and vaccination thresholds have become optional.
Earlier this year, the CDC announced that ships would be ranked based on how many of their passengers were vaccinated. This is no more.
Once again, it is up to the cruise lines to determine their guest requirements; It remains to be seen whether this will look like free hand or strict vaccination regulations for some companies.
Carnival Cruise Line has already dropped its pre-cruise testing requirements for stays of five nights and less for vaccinated people. Unvaccinated guests have no barriers to cruising as long as they provide a test. They used to have to wait and see if they would be accommodated on a cruise.
Unvaccinated guests are not allowed to go ashore despite carnival relaxations on the Turks and Caicos Islands. In addition, the CDC recommends cruise lines create strict guidelines for the health of local residents ashore.
“Cruise ships should develop and maintain shore-side response plans to prevent and mitigate the introduction of COVID-19 into port communities,” it said.
Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean and others have promised more changes to their protocol in the coming weeks.