Cruise Ship Color Status

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CDC’s Temporary Extension & Modification of Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) expired on January 15, 2022. CDC recommends that cruise ships operating in U.S. waters choose to participate in CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships.

Summary of Recent Changes

May 05, 2022

Changed cruise ship vaccination status thresholds from 95% of passengers to 90% of passengers.

What You Need to Know

  • CDC recommends that cruise ships operating or planning to operate in U.S. waters choose to participate in CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships.
  • Color status for ships participating in the program is based on data reported by cruise ships and relevant public health authorities.
  • CDC’s color-coding system gives travelers information they can use to make informed decisions before choosing to travel. Color status designations indicate the number of COVID-19 cases reported for each ship in the program, whether an investigation is needed, additional public health measures a ship is taking, and whether a ship has opted out of the program.
  • “Gray” designated cruise ships are foreign-flagged cruise ships operating in U.S. waters that have chosen not to participate in CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships. These ships may have their own COVID-19 health and safety protocols, which CDC has not reviewed or confirmed. CDC cannot confirm the COVID-19 public health measures implemented on “Gray” designated ships. Therefore, CDC does not have information about precautions and interventions, such as mask use, crew testing, or vaccination status of travelers for these ships.

Cruise Ship Status Dashboard

Color Status Definitions

Cruise Ship Color Status Key
Green No reported cases of COVID-19 or COVID-19-like illness (CLI).
Yellow^ Reported cases of COVID-19 are below the threshold for CDC investigation.
Orange^ Reported cases of COVID-19 have met the threshold for CDC investigation.
Red Reported cases of COVID-19 are at or above the threshold for CDC investigation. Additional public health measures are in place.
Gray Opted out of CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships. CDC has not reviewed or confirmed the cruise ship’s health and safety protocols.

^ The “Orange” and “Yellow” ship colors were reversed for the COVID-19 program to go in a more logical color order.

† If CDC is considering assigning a cruise ship “Red” status, CDC may require ships to do one or more of the following:

  • Test all passengers mid-voyage, and/or prior to the end of the voyage, regardless of the passengers’ vaccination status;
  • Increase routine screening testing of crew;
  • Require mask use by all passengers and crew indoors and crowded outdoor areas;
  • Send written notification to passengers on the current, previous, and subsequent voyages informing them of the COVID-19 conditions and measures being taken to reduce transmission on board;
  • Offer a full refund for the cruise to any passenger who decides not to sail on the subsequent voyage; and
  • Submit specimens for genetic sequencing.

Cruise Ship Types

The color-coding system is only applicable to commercial, non-cargo, passenger-carrying ships with the capacity to carry 250 or more passengers and crew with an itinerary that includes an overnight stay on board or 24-hour stay on board for either passengers or crew (cruise ships) that meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Foreign-flagged [1] cruise ships currently operating in U.S. waters; or
  2. Foreign-flagged cruise ships currently operating outside of U.S. waters but planning to return to operation in international, interstate, or intrastate waterways subject to the jurisdiction of the United States; or
  3. U.S.-flagged [2] cruise ships choosing to participate in CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships*.

* U.S.-flagged cruise ships may follow CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships at the cruise ship operator’s discretion. However, U.S.-flagged ships not following this program and operating exclusively in U.S. waterways will not be listed as “Gray” because these ships report cases to state and local jurisdictions. CDC cannot confirm the COVID-19 public health measures implemented on cruise ships not listed on CDC’s Cruise Ship Status Dashboard. Therefore, CDC does not have information about precautions and interventions, such as mask use, crew testing, or vaccination status for passengers and crew on these ships.


[1] Cruise ships registered in a country other than the United States.

[2] Cruise ships registered in the United States.

Ship Color Status Determination

The process for CDC to determine a ship’s color status is based on the following criteria:

Ship Color Status Determination
Step
1
COVID-19 program participation
Applicable ship types (refer to the section above) choose whether to participate in CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships. Cruise ships opting into the program on a voluntary basis agree to follow all recommendations and guidance issued by CDC. Foreign-flagged cruise ships operating in U.S. waters will have a “Gray” color status if they choose not to participate in the program. U.S.-flagged cruise ships that choose not to participate in the program will not be listed.
Step
2
Surveillance data collection
Cruise ships submit surveillance data on a daily basis when they participate in the program. CDC monitors data collected and determines each ship’s color status using surveillance data from the previous 7 days—regardless of voyage dates— and CDC’s investigation findings, as applicable.
Step
3
COVID-19 investigation
CDC established an investigation threshold based on suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board cruise ships operating under the program. CDC uses the investigation threshold to determine when an investigation of a ship is needed and determine the appropriate color status of a ship. As part of the investigation, CDC will obtain additional information from the cruise ship, such as case exposure histories, details about close contacts, proportion of travelers on board who are vaccinated for COVID-19, and the ship’s medical capacities. Any ship that meets CDC’s investigation threshold will be designated “Orange”. CDC will work closely with the cruise line and state and local health departments to consider multiple factors before assigning a “Red” status to the ship.  

Gray Cruise Ships

Cruise ships with a “Gray” color status are foreign-flagged cruise ships operating in U.S. waters that have chosen not to participate in CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships. These ships may have their own COVID-19 health and safety protocols, which CDC has not reviewed or confirmed. CDC cannot confirm the COVID-19 public health measures implemented on “Gray” designated ships. Therefore, CDC does not have information about precautions and interventions, such as mask use, crew testing, or vaccination status of travelers for these ships.

Frequently Asked Questions

Summary of Past Changes

February 09, 2022

Updated webpage to clarify the modifications of CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships, including color status definitions and thresholds.