COVID-19 and Cruise Ship Travel

Level 3: High Level of COVID-19
Summary of Recent Changes

August 20, 2021

Updated the notice to recommend travelers who are at increased risk for severe illness avoid cruise ship travel, regardless of vaccination status.

Key Information for Cruise Ship Travelers


  • The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily between people in close quarters aboard ships, and the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is high. Outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported on cruise ships.
  • CDC recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide.
  • People with an increased risk of severe illness should also avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, regardless of vaccination status.
  • People who decide to go on a cruise should get tested 1–3 days before their trip and 3–5 days after their trip, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Along with testing, passengers who are not fully vaccinated should self-quarantine for 7 days after cruise travel, even if they test negative. If they do not get tested, they should self-quarantine for 10 days after cruise travel.  
  • People on cruise ships should wear a mask to keep their nose and mouth covered when in shared spaces. While CDC is exercising its enforcement discretion under CDC’s Mask Order to not require that persons wear a mask under certain circumstances onboard cruise ships subject to the Conditional Sailing Order (CSO), including onboard cruise ships choosing to follow the requirements of the CSO on a voluntary basis, individual cruise lines may require travelers (passengers and crew) to wear masks on board the ship.
COVID-19 Levels

 

Level 4: Very High

 

Level 3: High

 

Level 2: Moderate

 

Level 1: Low

 

Level unknown

Learn more about COVID-19 levels.

See all COVID-19 travel notices.

What is the current situation?

CDC has released all the necessary information that cruise ship operators need to resume passenger operations under the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO), originally issued October 30, 2020). The CSO is a phased approach to resuming passenger operations on cruise ships. CDC may adjust these requirements and recommendations based on public health considerations and other factors. Information about the COVID-19 status of ships sailing under the CSO is available on CDC's website.

What can cruise travelers do to protect themselves and others?

CDC recommends that travelers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to traveling on a cruise ship.

People are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after a single dose in a one-dose series or 2 weeks after the second dose in a two-dose series.±

Travelers who are at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide, regardless of vaccination status.

If you are at increased risk for severe illness and considering cruise travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, discuss this type of travel with your healthcare professional. Older adults and people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are more likely to get severely ill if they get COVID-19. People with weakened immune systems, including people who take medicines that suppress their immune systems, may not be protected even if fully vaccinated.

Do not board a cruise ship if you have symptoms of COVID-19, if you know you have COVID-19, if you were exposed to a person with COVID-19 in the past 14 days (unless you recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days), or you are waiting for results of a COVID-19 viral test.

Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs (such as airports, bus or ferry terminals, train and subway stations, seaports, U.S. ports of entry, and other places where people board public transportation in the U.S. and U.S. territories). Wearing a mask is not required in outdoor areas of transportation conveyances or while outdoors at transportation hubs. However, travelers should consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.

If you go on a cruise during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Before you board:
  • Get fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
    • People are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after a single dose in a one-dose series or 2 weeks after the second dose in a two-dose series.
  • Get tested with a COVID-19 viral test 1–3 days before your departure, even if you are fully vaccinated.
    • If you test positive, isolate and do NOT travel.
  • Get travel insurance. Make sure you have a plan to get care overseas, in case you need it. Consider buying additional insurance that covers health care and emergency evacuation, especially if you will be traveling to remote areas.
While you're on board:
  • Stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you. Do this everywhere—both indoors and outdoors—if you are not fully vaccinated.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, stay in your cabin and notify the onboard medical center immediately.
If you are returning to an international port or disembarking an international river cruise:
  • Your return travel plans may be affected. Foreign health officials may implement formal quarantine procedures if they identify a case of COVID-19 aboard your cruise ship.
  • If you travel on a cruise ship or river cruise and disembark in a foreign port, you might not be able to receive appropriate medical care or be medically evacuated if you get sick.
  • Some countries might refuse to dock your ship or allow passengers to disembark.
If you return to the United States by air:
  • All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the United States.
After you disembark:
  • Get tested 3–5 days after your trip.
  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days after travel; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms, regardless of vaccination status.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated:
    • Stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days after cruise travel, even if you test negative.
    • If you do not get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after cruise travel.
    • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

Always follow state and local recommendations or requirements related to travel.

Information for people who recently recovered from COVID-19

  • If you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 3 months and met criteria to end isolation, you do NOT need to get tested before or after cruise travel unless you have symptoms. CDC has found that people can continue to test positive for up to 3 months after they had COVID-19 and not be infectious to others.
  • Travel with a copy of your positive test result and a letter from your healthcare or a public health official that states you have been cleared for travel. The positive test result and letter together are referred to as “documentation of recovery.” If you are asked by officials in a foreign country, you may be required to show this documentation.
  • You also do NOT need to self-quarantine after cruise travel if you have recently recovered from COVID-19, even if you are not fully vaccinated.

For more information

± This guidance applies to COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson (J&J)/Janssen COVID-19 vaccines. This guidance can also be applied to COVID-19 vaccines that have been listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization (such as AstraZeneca/Oxford).

This notice was originally posted March 17, 2020.