Cruise lines are being given the option of joining the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID-19 program for ships. 

What You Need To Know

  •  Cruise lines can now join the CDC's COVID-19 program for ships

  •  The program is a new tiered system based on the vaccination status of passengers and crew

  • Experts have said that COVID-19 restrictions have caused numerous cruise ship cancellations

The new tiered system is based on the vaccination status of passengers and crew. It replaces the conditional sailing order that was lifted.

Companies that don’t make a decision will be designated “gray” by the CDC to indicate the agency does not have info about that ship’s COVID protocols, like mask wearing, testing or vaccinations.

Travel agent Vici Sheffield, who specializes in cruises, said her business is booming with people booking and getting great deals. She is also seeing a lot of people canceling trips.

“We have seen a slew of refunds coming in," she said. “I have a spring break group that was going on the Independence of the Seas for Royal Caribbean and most of those cabins have had to cancel because the vaccine requirement changed since we booked.” 

Sheffield’s clients have told her they hope COVID-19 requirements will relax as the world adjusts and other countries lift their restrictions. 

“I know my cruising clients are hoping that the cruise lines will lift their restrictions, as well even the vaccinated clients, she said. "Like I said, would prefer not to have to do the testing two days ahead of time."

Testing before boarding a cruise ship is still required. 

The CDC downgraded cruise travel risk from “very high” to “high” earlier this week.