CDC Significantly Relaxes Cruise Rules for Fully Vaccinated Passengers

Courtesy Cruise Industry News: May 26, 2021 – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has significantly relaxed its cruise ship regulations for passengers and crew that have been vaccinated against COVID-19, paving the way for a quick U.S. restart.

No Masks and Buffet Can Return

The new update issued on Wednesday said that cruise lines may designate areas as only accessible to fully vaccinated passengers and crew where masks and physical distancing are not required.

The CDC also updated wording, noting that for fully vaccinated passengers, a number of items are now just recommendations, including social distancing in the restaurants and bars, limited seating capacity and even self-service food and drinks, leading the way for the return of traditionally cruise ship buffets.

In addition, for ships with at least 95% of crew and 95% of passengers fully vaccinated, cruise ship operators, at their discretion, may advise passengers and crew that they do not have to wear a mask or maintain physical distance in any areas.

Latest Key Updates from CDC:

Cruise ship operators, at their discretion, may advise passengers and crew that—if they are fully vaccinated—they may gather or conduct activities outdoors, including engaging in extended meal service or beverage consumption, without wearing a mask.

  • Cruise ship operators, at their discretion, may advise crew who are fully vaccinated that they do not have to wear a mask or maintain physical distance in areas of the ship that are inaccessible to passengers.
  • Cruise ship operators, at their discretion, may designate areas as only accessible to fully vaccinated passengers and crew where masks and physical distancing are not required (e.g., casinos; bars; spas; entertainment venues; and dining areas, including self-serve buffets).
  • For ships with at least 95% of crew and 95% of passengers fully vaccinated, cruise ship operators, at their discretion, may advise passengers and crew that they do not have to wear a mask or maintain physical distance in any areas.

Now Just Recommendations:

  • Change restaurant and bar layouts to ensure that all customer parties remain at least 6 feet (2 meters) apart (such as removing tables, stools, and chairs or marking any that are not for use).
  • Limit seating capacity to allow for physical distancing of at least 6 feet (2 meters).
  • Discourage crowded waiting areas by using phone app, text technology, or signs to alert patrons when their table is ready. Avoid using “buzzers” or other shared objects.
  • Eliminate self-service food and drink options, such as self-service buffets, salad bars, and beverage stations.
  • Provide eating utensils in a way that prevents handling by more than one person.
  • Install physical barriers, such as sneeze guards and partitions in areas where it is difficult for individuals to maintain proper physical distance of at least 6 feet (2 meters), such as serving stations and food pick up areas.
  • Provide physical guides, such as tape on decks and signage, to remind individuals to maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet (2 meters) where food and beverages are served.
  • Provide and encourage outdoor dining and bar/beverage service options.
  • Provide and encourage in-room passenger dining service.
  • Limit any sharing of food, tools, equipment, or supplies by food workers, to the extent practicable.
  • Ensure adequate supplies to minimize sharing of high-touch materials (e.g., serving spoons) to the extent practicable; otherwise, limit use of supplies and equipment by one group of food workers at a time and clean and disinfect between use.
  • Avoid using or sharing of items that are reusable, such as menus, condiments, and any other food containers. Instead, use disposable menus, digital menus that can be disinfected between each use, online menus that can be retrieved on diners’ personal cell phones, single serving condiments, and no-touch trash cans and doors.

Cover photo: Florida Port Miami ©Dennis Cox/WorldViews


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