CDC’s cruise ship coronavirus rules to remain in place through mid-January following extension

Oct 26, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended and slightly tweaked its COVID-19 rules for cruise ships operating in U.S. waters during the pandemic.

Originally set to expire on Nov. 1, the agency’s year-old Conditional Sail Order (CSO) will now run through Jan. 15, unless it is modified or COVID-19 is no longer considered a public health emergency, the CDC announced late Monday.

The CSO also tinkered with the list of ships to which the CSO applies. The agency has always excluded ships that carry fewer than 250 people from the rules. But as of Nov. 1, it also will no longer apply to U.S.-flagged ships, such as Norwegian Cruise Line‘s Pride of America, which exclusively sails in Hawaii.

Other changes that will take effect on Nov. 1 include the waiving of a stipulation that voyages can be no longer than one week. Cruise lines also will no longer have to warn passengers of the risks of COVID-19 in their cruise contracts and other pre-cruise materials, and sailings will no longer immediately have to end if cases of COVID-19 are found on board.

For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG’s cruise newsletter.

Under the CSO, cruise ships departing from or sailing to the U.S. have been required either to sail with at least 95% of cruisers and crew fully vaccinated on each voyage or to conduct test cruises before they’re allowed to restart operations with paying passengers.

Tweaks have been made to the latest version of the order to remove some of the burden on cruise lines with regard to test cruises and to decrease the amount of time cruise lines can expect to wait for answers from the CDC.

Additional longstanding requirements include mask-wearing, social distancing, pre-cruise testing, more intense cleaning and sanitation, improved air filtration, beefed-up medical facilities and staff with the capability to quarantine and test potentially ill passengers, and agreements with ports on every itinerary that account for evacuation of ill cruisers and land-based medical care if necessary.

TPG’s Ashley Kosciolek undergoes a COVID-19 test before boarding a cruise ship earlier this year. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

The CSO rules are not binding for ships sailing to or from Florida, but most lines have voluntarily committed to enforcing them for Florida-based vessels anyway.

After Jan. 15, barring further extension of the CSO, the CDC plans to make the program voluntary for vessels sailing from all U.S. states.

“The changes to the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order … show that the Biden Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognize the cruise industry’s successful resumption of operations,” reads a statement issued by the Cruise Lines International Association, an industry organization that represents cruise line interests. “We look forward to demonstrating the industry’s continued leadership in this final phase of the CSO, and to carrying out a smooth transition when the order comes to an end on [Jan. 15] 2022.”

In mid-March of 2020, shortly after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, most cruise lines voluntarily stopped cruising. The CDC then issued a No-Sail Order, which prevented most ships from calling on U.S. ports. In October of 2020, the No-Sail Order was replaced with the Conditional Sail Order, and sailings began to resume from U.S. ports in June 2021 under its guidance.

For full details, check out the full, updated CSO PDF.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

Featured photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy. 

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.