Passenger Vessels

CDC Issues Framework For Resuming Cruise Ship Passenger Operations

On October 30, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Framework for Conditional Sailing Order that introduces a phased approach for the safe and responsible resumption of passenger cruises.  The order “establishes a framework of actionable items for the cruise line industry to follow so they can resume passenger operations with an emphasis on preventing the further spread of COVID-19 on cruise ships and from cruise ships into communities, and to protect public health and safety,” according to the CDC.

The order applies to passenger operations on cruise ships with the capacity to carry at least 250 passengers in waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction. During the initial phases, cruise ship operators must demonstrate adherence to testing, quarantine and isolation and social distancing requirements to protect crew members while they build the laboratory capacity needed to test crew and future passengers. Subsequent phases will include simulated (mock) voyages with volunteers playing the role of passengers to test cruise ship operators’ ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk, certification for ships that meet specific requirements and return to passenger voyages in a manner that mitigates COVID-19 risk among passengers, crew members and communities.

CDC will help ships prepare and protect crew members during the initial phases by:

• establishing a laboratory team dedicated to cruise ships to provide information and oversight for COVID-19 testing;

• updating its color-coding system to indicate ship status;

• updating its technical instructions, as needed; and

• updating the “Enhanced Data Collection (EDC) During COVID-19 Pandemic Form” to prepare for surveillance for COVID-19 among passengers.

“This framework provides a pathway to resume safe and responsible sailing. It will mitigate the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks on ships and prevent passengers and crew from seeding outbreaks at ports and in the communities where they live,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield.

“Our member lines are 100 percent committed to helping to protect the health of our guests, our crew and the communities we serve and are prepared to implement multiple layers of protocols informed by the latest scientific and medical knowledge,” said Kelly Craighead, president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). “We look forward to reviewing the new order and are optimistic that it is an important step toward returning our ships to service from U.S. ports.”

For more information about COVID-19 and cruise ships, visit and