CDC Releases Strict Guidelines for Returning Cruise Passengers

CDC

The CDC has updated its recommendations to help U.S. cruise ship travelers get home as quickly and safely as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, including that healthy guests disembarking should self-quarantine for 14 days upon arriving home. 

The CDC said it is working with partners as part of the Unified Command, including Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, port authorities, local and state health departments, and Department of State, to respond to COVID-19 aboard cruise ships.

Recommendations:

  • CDC recommends that cruise ship travelers with no symptoms or mild symptoms disembark as quickly and safely as possible at US ports of entry.
  • Cruise line companies must get travelers directly to their homes via chartered or private transportation; commercial flights and public transportation may not be used.
  • Since February 2020, travelers on dozens of cruise ships have been affected by COVID-19 outbreaks. The CDC said that cruise ships are often settings for outbreaks of infectious diseases because of the semi-enclosed environment and contact between travelers from many countries.
  • Outbreaks of COVID-19 on cruise ships pose a risk for rapid spread of disease beyond the voyage. Aggressive efforts are required to contain spread.

For Returning Cruise Ship Travelers

Well Travelers

"Before leaving your cabin to begin ship disembarkation, put on a face mask or cloth face covering issued to you by the cruise line. Keep the face covering on from the time you leave your cabin, during disembarkation and during all air and land travel. To the extent possible, do not remove the face covering until you get to your final destination," the CDC said. "You should only travel with other well travelers by chartered or private transportation. Do not board a commercial flight or other public transportation.

"While traveling, you should spread out if space allows (6 feet apart from non-travel companions, if possible). Sit next to your cruise ship travel companion(s) if you’re traveling with someone.
If you develop symptoms during travel, notify the medical staff of your symptoms and continue to wear your cloth face covering. If you are on a chartered flight without medical staff, tell the CDC Quarantine Station staff as soon as you disembark the plane. When you arrive at your final destination, you should stay home for 14 days and monitor your health."

Travelers who are Ill

The CDC said: "Before leaving your cabin, put on a face mask issued to you by the cruise line. Keep the mask on from the time you leave your cabin, during disembarkation and during all air and land travel. To the extent possible, do not remove the mask until you get to your final destination. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have confirmed COVID-19, do not travel with well travelers who have no symptoms. Cabin mates with no symptoms may accompany you if they provide written consent to the cruise line ahead of time.If you are well enough to travel, you should only travel to your home by charter flight, air ambulance, or ground ambulance, or another private vehicle that can be properly sanitized."

The CDC also stated: If you require urgent medical attention, your cruise line is responsible for arranging your transportation to a local hospital."

For Cruise Ship Companies

  • Cruise lines are responsible for transporting all ill or infected patients, including those who need hospitalization.
  • For travelers who need urgent medical attention, cruise lines should arrange EMS transport to the local, receiving hospital.
  • Before arriving at a US port, cruise line representatives must discuss the disembarkation of patients suspected of having COVID-19 with the CDC Quarantine Station and with the state and local health departments.
  • Ships destined for a US port of entry must immediately report any death onboard or illness that meets CDC’s definition of “ill person,” including suspected cases of COVID-19, to the CDC Quarantine Station with jurisdiction for the port.
  • Cruise lines must arrange for disembarking travelers with no symptoms or mild symptoms to return directly to their residence by chartered or private transportation that can be properly sanitized. Commercial flights and other public transportation may not be used.
  • Travelers with mild symptoms may return home alone or with other symptomatic travelers by charter flight, air ambulance, ground ambulance or other private vehicle that can be properly sanitized. Cabin mates with no symptoms may accompany ill travelers if they provide written consent to the cruise line ahead of time.
  • Well travelers with no symptoms may return home alone or with other well travelers by charter flight or other private vehicle that can be properly sanitized.
  • Cruise ship companies should provide to all travelers, including crew, a procedural/surgical mask, cloth face covering, or non-medical mask such as a bandanna, and ask them to wear it during: ship disembarkation, transport to any flights, the duration of the flight(s), and any ground transportation until they reach their final destination.
  • Cruise ship companies should not be distributing N-95 respirator masks to passengers or crew.
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