The tough American health regulation body the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has downgraded its cruise reporting and restrictions as the lines manage the pandemic themselves.

The CDC’s COVID-19 program was introduced two years ago to reduce the spread of the infectious disease and prevent outbreaks.

Cruise Lines International Association said in a statement: “This is an important step forward in the CDC aligning the guidelines for cruises with those it has established for other travel, hospitality and entertainment sectors. The sunsetting of the CDC program is a testament to the effectiveness of the industry’s comprehensive and robust protocols.”

The CDC’s website says that cruise lines now have the tools to manage the risks of COVID-19 themselves. The website’s statement also says that they will release new guidance to manage the transition in the coming days. 

The CDC will continue to make recommendations on COVID testing and says that cruise passengers can contact their cruise line directly for further advice. Cruise ship operators will however continue to report cases to the CDC.

They have also announced that they will no longer report case numbers and a statement on the FAQ page of their website says: “Cruise lines will continue to report coronavirus cases to the agency” and that customers “Have the option of contacting their cruise line directly regarding outbreaks occurring on board their ship.”

Yesterday, P&O’s Pacific Explorer announced that at least 100 COVID-19 cases had been detected. The announcement came less than a week after Coral Princess reported 118 cases.

The management of COVID-19 in Australia was generally left up to state governments, however after a period of the federal government banning international cruise ships, they were allowed to re-enter Australian waters with strict protocols.

Many of those protocols remain in place today.

Cruise lines in Australia are required to have outbreak management and COVID-19 safety plans in place.  The federal government continues to consult health protocols and guidelines that support the return of cruising in Australia.

Despite the CDC abolishing its COVID-19 program, its website still has Australia at a Level 3: High level of COVID-19 in Australia. They recommend travellers have current vaccines, or not to travel to Australia if they are not. They advise that there is still a risk of COVID-19 and advise people aged two and over to wear masks in indoor public spaces. 

On July 6, 2022, the NSW government announced that international travellers would no longer need to fill out a Digital Passenger Declaration or Maritime Travel Declaration, provide evidence of their vaccination status or have an exemption if they are unvaccinated. International travellers also no longer need to take a COVID-19 test on arrival but it is recommended that they monitor travel information for international arrivals.