After two years of tracking on COVID cases on cruise lines, the CDC ended its cruise line-specific reporting program—and in response, cruise lines immediately started loosening COVID protocols.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention program tracked and reported COVID cases on board ships in the U.S. using a color-coded chart to show different levels of transmission. The agency will continue to publish guidance for passengers on how to stay safe while cruising.
Several lines immediately responded to the change by loosening safety protocols. Princess Cruises updated its guidance to allow unvaccinated passengers. Azamara announced that it will no longer required pre-trip testing, except at ports in countries that still require it, though it still recommends testing and requires vaccination. Many other announcements are expected to follow.
The appetite for cruising remains high, according to a recent survey from Cruise Lines International Association, which found that 69 percent of people who have never cruised are considering doing so—a higher percentage than pre-pandemic. A full 63 percent of people who have already cruised said they were “very likely” or “likely” to repeat in the next two years.
“Passenger volume is expected to recover and surpass 2019 levels by the end of 2023, with passenger volumes projected to recover 12 percent above pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2026,” said Kelly Craighead, president and CEO, CLIA, said in a statement. “With the support of an incredibly resilient community, the future of the cruise industry is bright.”