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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a color-coding system for cruise ships operating or planning to operate in U.S. waters, based upon daily submission of data by the cruise lines. Ship color status is determined using surveillance data from the previous seven days—regardless of voyage dates—and CDC investigation findings.

When a cruise ship operating under the CDC Conditional Sail Order (CSO) notifies CDC of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board, the CDC determines whether an investigation is needed, based on a predetermine “investigation threshold.”

Here is what each color stands for:


No COVID-19 cases or COVID-19-like illnesses are reported onboard


Reported cases are below the threshold for investigation, which varies for restricted voyages, simulated voyages and ships with crew-only


The ship meets the threshold for investigation (for crew or passenger COVID-19 cases), or a state or local health department has notified the CDC of passenger cases occurring within five days of disembarkation


The ship is at or above the threshold for passenger and crew COVID-19 cases. Based on CDC investigation, the ship is subject to additional public health precautions. such as immediate return to port or delay of the next voyage

Gray (Added July 23, 2021)

The ship operator’s health and safety protocol hasn’t been reviewed or confirmed by the CDC; this only applies to ships arriving in, located within, or departing from a port in Florida that chose not to follow the CSO voluntarily.

The CDC posts a table on its web site with all the ships that are operating under health and safety protocols that align with its standards for protecting passengers, crew, port personnel and communities by mitigating the public health risks posed by COVID-19. Gray-designated ships may have their own COVID-19 health and safety protocols, which CDC has not reviewed or confirmed.

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