After Two Years, the CDC Finally Gives Green Light on Cruising

The agency now recommends travelers assess their own health risk

 In an aerial view, cruise ships wait for people to embark before leaving PortMiami on December 31, 2021 in Miami, Florida

Joe Raedle / Staff / Getty Images

Three months after issuing a Level 4 travel warning for cruise ships, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removed its "Cruise Ship Travel Health Notice" on March 30. The notice advised against traveling on cruise ships after some high-profile COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships that left people stranded at sea in early 2020.

The health notice lasted for over two years, even as the CDC allowed big-ship cruises to restart in June 2021. Now, it will be entirely up to individuals to decide if a cruise poses a health risk. "While cruising will always pose some risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers will make their own risk assessment when choosing to travel on a cruise ship," the agency said in a statement to NPR.

The Cruise Lines International Association, a trade organization that includes most cruise lines, praised the notice's removal. "Today's decision … recognizes the effective public health measures in place on cruise ships and begins to level the playing field, between cruise and similarly situated venues on land, for the first time since March 2020," said the organization.

The CDC still monitors cruise ships that travel in U.S. waters, and travelers are encouraged to check a ship's status before embarkation.

As of publishing, among the 106 cruise ships monitored by the agency, 35 percent have no COVID-19 cases, 32 percent have enough cases to warrant investigation by the CDC (a 0.3 percent positive rate), and the rest have reported at least one case. And all but three ships have vaccination levels of at least 95 percent for passengers.

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Cruise Ship Travel During COVID-19." Accessed April 1, 2022.

  2. NPR. "CDC Drops Its COVID-19 Risk Advisory for Cruise Ship Travel." March 30, 2022.

  3. Centers for Disease for Control and Prevention. "Cruise Ship Color Status." Accessed March 30, 2022.