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No mask, distancing mandate for vaccinated cruisers on ships with at least 95% vaccinated

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Fully vaccinated passengers and crew may forgo masks and even social distancing in numerous circumstances under new US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

All at the cruise operator's discretion.

In its latest COVID-19 operations manual update, the CDC gave cruise operators much more leeway regarding fully vaccinated travelers and near normalcy for ships with at least 95% of crew and passengers fully vaccinated.

The measures go a long way toward restoring the traditional cruise experience — and even allow self-serve buffets in specific circumstances.

Everything hinges on being vaccinated

Everything hinges on being fully vaccinated, while the greatest freedom is for inoculated travelers on ships with at least 95% of crew and passengers vaccinated.

At their discretion, cruise operators may advise passengers and crew that — if they are fully vaccinated — they may gather or conduct activities outdoors, including engaging in extended meal service or beverage consumption, without wearing a mask.

They also may advise crew who are fully vaccinated that they do not have to wear a mask or maintain physical distance in areas of the ship that are inaccessible to passengers.

Access to some areas without distancing or masks — even self-serve buffets

They may designate areas as only accessible to fully vaccinated passengers and crew where masks and physical distancing are not required — for example, casinos, bars, spas, entertainment venues and dining areas, including self-serve buffets.

Greatest freedom for ships with 95% vaccinated travelers

And, the best for last: For vaccinated travelers on ships with at least 95% of crew and passengers fully vaccinated, operators have the discretion to advise passengers and crew they do not have to wear a mask or maintain physical distance in any areas.

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