When the clock struck midnight last night, the CDC’s Conditional Sail Order (CSO) expired and officially became voluntary for cruise lines.
The CSO had been in effect since November 4, 2020 and it laid out a framework for cruise lines to resume cruises in ports all around the U.S. What does it mean for cruises now that the CSO is voluntary? Likely, not much.
The CSO was already voluntary for cruises out of Florida, where the majority of cruise ships are based. Even though it was voluntary for cruises out of Florida, cruise lines were still working along side the CDC to keep guests, crew members, and the communities they visit safe.
The CSO has been nonbinding recommendations for cruise ships visiting a Florida port since July 23, 2021 due to a Preliminary Injunction Order entered by the U.S. District Court of Middle District of Florida.
Cruise lines will continue to implement health protocols to protect everyone on board their ships even though the CSO is now nonbinding. Vaccinations, pre-cruise negative tests, and masks are currently required. Cruise ships are also sailing at a reduced capacity. This has made cruising the safest way to travel over the past six months.
Cruise lines have gone above and beyond every other mode of travel to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The positivity rate on cruise ships has been far lower than on land since cruises resumed this past summer.
The CDC is encouraging cruise lines to continue to follow all CDC public health measures, including reporting, testing, and infection prevention and control.
The CDC in coordination with cruise ship operators and other stakeholders, will assist the cruise ship industry to detect, mitigate, and control the spread of COVID-19 onboard cruise ships.