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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has ended its COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships, which monitored how cruise lines implemented COVID-19 protocols. According to the U.S. government agency’s website, “new guidance for cruise ships to mitigate and manage COVID-19 transmission will be available in the coming days.”

The announcement suggests that cruise lines operating out of U.S. ports are now able to establish their own testing and vaccination requirements and comes four months after the agency lifted the health notice for cruise travel.

According to the CDC’s website, the decision to end the COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships was based on the fact that cruise ships “have access to guidance and tools to manage their own COVID-19 mitigation programs,” and travelers “have access to recommendations that allow them to make informed decisions about cruise ship travel.”

The CDC has also retired its color-coded dashboard that tracked COVID-19 cases on ships from its website. 

In a statement following the CDC’s announcement, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) applauded the decision, calling it “an important step forward in the CDC aligning the guidelines for cruises with those it has established for other travel, hospitality and entertainment sectors.”

While Brad Tolkin, the co-chair and CEO of cruise agency and travel company World Travel Holdings, issued as statement calling the news “the most positive indication yet that we are moving further away from the pandemic” and “is another step to greater consumer confidence in travel.” He added: “We are already experiencing an increase in calls and bookings due to the pent-up demand for cruise, and we expect to see another uptick as a result of this latest announcement.”

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