CDC Institutes Color-Coded Status for Cruise Ships to Allow for Commercial Transportation of Crew Members

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a color-coded status indicator for individual cruise ships operating within their jurisdiction. The updated guidance from the CDC to the cruise lines offers a pathway to commercial travel for crew members based on outlined criteria and the cruise line’s response plan which leads to a color-coded status reminiscent of a stop light, with red, yellow, and green.

The CDC is allowing crew members to disembark from all cruise ships in U.S. waters with certain precautions. Cruise lines with complete and accurate response plans will be able to use commercial travel to disembark crew members from certain ships if the ships meet certain criteria set by CDC including that there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 or COVID-like illnesses on board the ship within the last 28 days. These ships are also able to lessen certain social distancing restrictions onboard. Cruise lines with complete and accurate response plans under the No Sail Order but not meeting the above criteria will still be able to disembark their crew members using non-commercial travel. Cruise lines must have measures in place to ensure those involved in transport are not exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 and follow all CDC requirements to prevent interaction of disembarking crew with the public.

A complete and accurate response plan in the eyes of the CDC addresses every element of the No Sail Order. A cruise line must be in compliance with the No Sail Order, the line’s No Sail Order response plan, and CDC’s Interim Guidance for Mitigation of COVID-19 Among Cruise Ship Crew During the Period of the No Sail Order which was last updated on June 1st. The CDC will asses compliance through implementation checks on a sample of ships covered under a cruise ship operator’s plan. There must be no evidence of noncompliance.

As mentioned in the intro, cruise ships requesting the use of commercial travel for disembarking crew members will need to meet the following criteria:

  • A response plan under the No Sail Order that is complete and accurate
    • This does not mean ships are allowed to resume passenger travel, but rather that they have met CDC’s requirements to provide a safe environment for crew members to work and to disembark crew safely by non-commercial travel.
    • Cruise company officials must sign an acknowledgment of the completeness and accuracy of their response plan.
  • No confirmed cases of COVID-19 or COVID-like illness for 28 days, as determined by a qualified medical professional. 
  • If the ship has received ship-to-ship transfers, the crew must have come from a ship that had no confirmed cases of COVID-19 or COVID-like illness within the 28 days before the transfer occurred.
  • If land-based crew embarked, they were immediately quarantined for 14 days upon embarking the ship.
  • Submission of a signed attestation for commercial travel.

Determination for color-coding status (Green, Red, or Yellow) is made only when the CDC has finished the review of the cruise line’s plan, and the cruise line has returned an acknowledgement attesting that their No Sail Order response plan is complete and accurate. Ships of cruise lines that have not met the above two criteria will be listed as Provisionally Green* or Provisionally Red^.


Green Ship Criteria

  • No confirmed cases of COVID-19 or COVID-like illness for 28 days, as determined by a qualified medical professional.
  • If the ship received ship-to-ship transfers within the past 28 days, crew must have come from a ship that had no confirmed COVID-19 or COVID-like illness within the 28 days before the transfer occurred.
  • If land-based crew embarked, they were immediately quarantined for 14 days upon embarking the ship.

Note: To maintain Green status, ships must submit a weekly EDC form to CDC. Failure to submit, changes ship status to Red. Green ship status means that CDC believes the ship is currently unaffected by COVID-19 based on information provided by the cruise ship operator.

Yellow Ship Criteria

  • Previously designated Green, but now has 1 or more COVID-like illness cases pending COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
    • If PCR positive, status changes to Red (must sign attestation again after meeting criteria again)
    • If PCR negative, status goes back to Green
    • If crew with COVID-like illness are not tested by PCR or if results are not available within 1 week of the case being reported, status changes to Red.
  • If the ship received ship-to-ship transfers within the past 28 days, crew must have come from a ship that had no confirmed COVID-19 or COVID-like illness within the 28 days before the transfer occurred. If not, status changes to Red.
  • If land-based crew embarked, they were immediately quarantined for 14 days upon embarking the ship. If not, status changes to Red.

Red Ship Criteria

  • One or more cases of confirmed COVID-19 or COVID-like Illness within the past 28 days, or
  • Ship received ship-to-ship transfers from a ship that had confirmed COVID-19 or COVID-like illness within the 28 days before the transfer occurred, or
  • If land-based crew embarked, they were not immediately quarantined for 14 days upon embarking the ship, or
  • During the past 28 days, the ship missed one or more weekly submission of the EDC form.

The following table outlines preventive measures based on the color-coded status.

CDC Color Coding System No Sail Order 20200615

As of Monday, June 15 at 5PM, the CDC lists the Disney Fantasy as provisionally green with the Disney Dream and Disney Wonder provisionally red. The Grand Celebration sailing under the Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line is the lone ship with a green light for commercial crew travel.

At this time, the Disney Magic is in Europe, docked in Dover so she does not fall under U.S. CDC jurisdiction thus not included.

CDC Commercial Travel Status 20200615

You can view the status, updated each Monday, for all cruise ships currently operating in U.S. waters, or seeking to operate in U.S. waters over on the CDC’s website.

It is very important to note, meeting the CDC’s criteria does not mean a cruise ship can resume passenger service. At this time, the CDC does not have enough information to say when it will be safe to resume passenger sailings. According to the CDC, cruise lines may need to establish additional safety measures before sailing with passengers is permitted to resume. CDC will continue to evaluate and update its recommendations as the situation evolves.

Disney Cruise Line Crew Repatriation Update

As of June 15th, there have been over 1,300 Disney Cruise Line crew members repatriated through CDC approved disembarkations.

CDC Approved DCL Crew Disembarkations 20200617

Due to the CDC’s constraints limiting commercial travel, the ships have been sailing to various ports in the Caribbean as well as to Europe to drop off crew members.

2 thoughts on “CDC Institutes Color-Coded Status for Cruise Ships to Allow for Commercial Transportation of Crew Members

  1. Eric

    Hi Scott,
    We are booked on the Fantasy 8/1 cruise. Which indicators are you watching to determine if DCL is on track for August sailings? It would seem that DCL would have to start food purchasing and making crew transportation plans in the next few weeks if those early August cruises are actually going to happen.
    Thanks,
    Eric

    Reply
    1. Scott Sanders Post author

      DCL along with other cruise lines are still working to get crew members home. The first indicator will be an announcement from the CDC allowing cruise ships to resume operations in US waters.

      Reply

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