Apr 5, 2021 - Economy

CDC guidance says cruise ships won't need to mandate vaccines

a cruise ship

Photo: Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that while it recommends all staff and travelers aboard cruise ships be vaccinated for COVID-19, cruise companies do not need to mandate vaccines in order to resume travel safely.

Why it matters: Cruise ships were some of the first super-spreader sites for the coronavirus in 2020 and have been docked ever since.

  • The industry has been eager to get back to business, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has threatened to sue the federal government if the CDC does not allow cruises to restart by the summer.
  • CDC guidance will still mandate that masks be worn on board by staff and passengers, as well as at "all U.S. transportation hubs, including seaports and ferry terminals."

The new CDC guidance will allow cruise ships to begin trial runs of their operations — and then to apply for a permit to operate regularly, per the New York Times.

Between the lines: Making vaccines a recommendation rather than a requirement also avoids conflict with port-bearing states that have or may ban the use of vaccine passports — including Florida.

  • Vaccine mandates for some cruises' destinations may still apply.
Go deeper