CDC Ditches Mask Requirement for Fully Vaccinated, What About Cruises?

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its guidance which is a major step toward normality. The agency says that fully vaccinated no longer have to wear a mask or follow social distancing in most cases. How can this impact cruises moving forward? And it could be another good sign for allowing a safe return by mid-July.

Normality is Making a Comeback

Another change has come from the CDC, but this time it’s not directly related to resuming cruises. It could still have a major impact on guests onboard cruise ships from the U.S. once operations do eventually resume.

On Thursday afternoon, the CDC took away most of the restrictions for people who are fully vaccinated. The CDC says, “If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.” The agency also says, “Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

You can watch the full announcement from the CDC Director below:

It’s a huge step forward to normality, and with the vaccine rollout becoming easily available across the U.S., a normal way of life seems to be just around the corner. However, fully vaccinated people will still need to follow local business and workplace guidelines. Some places still have their own health measures, but many do come from the CDC’s recommendations and guidance.

Good News for Cruises?

Cruise lines still have their own protocols in place, which have been developed by health experts, including the big three cruise companies, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line. With the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) still in place, cruise lines have been unable to sail, so the updated guidance for fully vaccinated people will only really have an impact once cruises resume.

Docked Miami Cruise Ships
Photo Credit: EQRoy /

Norwegian Cruise Line has already released its health protocols to keep guests and crew safe during the voyage. At the moment, NCL requires face coverings while indoors except for in the stateroom and while eating or drinking. A mask is also required if social distancing is not possible outdoors.

So with the CDC no longer requiring any person who is fully vaccinated to wear a mask indoors or outdoors, it’s looking good for cruises. NCL has already set out its plan for fully vaccinated guests so that’s in line with what the CDC is saying.

Carnival Cruise Line is yet to release its health and safety protocols, and with the situation remaining very fluid, that may be a good decision. This can now help Carnival decide what to do for a safe return to cruising this July with up to four vessels. Royal Caribbean has released safety details, but more information on the requirement is sent to guests within 30 days of sailing.

For now, the cruise industry remains very much focused on working through the guidelines and requirements the CDC has set out as part of the Conditional sailing order. Just yesterday, the CDC made an update for simulated and restricted sailings with fully vaccinated guests no longer needing to wear a mask while dining or in activities outdoors.

As part of the update, guests who are fully vaccinated can also enjoy the ports by themselves without any of the previous restrictions.

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