The CDC’s program for cruise ships, which became voluntary earlier this year, required all passengers to be tested, encouraged vaccinations for staff and passengers and outlined specific quarantine procedures in the event of an outbreak.
The CDC said it would still provide guidance for cruise ships handling of Covid-19 cases, but that companies can now use their own strategies to mitigate the spread on the virus. That means cruise lines can make their own policies regarding vaccination, testing, and quarantine requirements.
The CDC’s change is expected to give cruise liners more flexibility, which could allow for more travelers on ships and lower costs for the industry.
“While we fully expect the cruise operators to continue to mandate passengers to be vaccinated before sailing,” wrote Steven M. Wieczynski, a Stifel analyst. “We believe today’s news will give the cruise operators more flexibility around the inclusion of younger individuals.”
A Royal Caribbean representative said the company is awaiting further guidance from the CDC before setting its own policies.
The cruise industry has been reeling since the pandemic began, and has more recently been working to recover business back toward pre-2020 levels.