CDC Color Codes for Cruises

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a color-coding system for cruise ships operating or planning to operate in U.S. waters, based upon daily submission of data by the cruise lines.

When a cruise ship operating under the CDC Conditional Sail Order (CSO) notifies CDC of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board, the CDC determines whether an investigation is needed, based on a predetermine “investigation threshold.”

Here is what each color stands for:


No COVID-19 cases or COVID-19-like illnesses are reported onboard


Reported cases are below the threshold for investigation, which varies for restricted voyages, simulated voyages and ships with crew-only


The ship meets the threshold for investigation (for crew or passenger COVID-19 cases), or a state or local health department has notified the CDC of passenger cases occurring within five days of disembarkation


The ship is at or above the threshold for passenger and crew COVID-19 cases. Based on CDC investigation, the ship is subject to additional public health precautions. such as immediate return to port or delay of the next voyage

Gray (Added July 23, 2021)

The ship operator’s health and safety protocol hasn’t been reviewed or confirmed by the CDC; this only applies to ships arriving in, located within, or departing from a port in Florida that chose not to follow the CSO voluntarily.

The CDC posts a table on its web site with all the lines that are operating under health and safety protocols that align with its standards for protecting passengers, crew, port personnel and communities by mitigating the public health risks posed by COVID-19. Gray-designated ships may have their own COVID-19 health and safety protocols, which CDC has not reviewed or confirmed.

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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.