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CDC posts color-coded status for allowing cruise ship crew to transit US

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are now allowing crew to disembark from cruise ships in US waters and use commercial transport if certain criteria are met.

This topic, crew repatriation, was the focus of last week's hour-long call between CDC and several cruise line leaders and representatives of Cruise Lines International Association.

A first step

CLIA said the association and its member lines appreciated the opportunity to engage with CDC during the call, which the association deemed 'an important first step toward productive and ongoing dialogue, which we expect to continue on an accelerated basis.'

One green ship

So far, one of the 50 cruise ships in US waters — Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line's Grand Celebration — meets the full 'green' status for crew to disembark and use commercial transit, while 36 ships are 'provisionally green' and 13 are 'provisionally red.'

No COVID cases for 28 days

'Green' status means a line has submitted a complete and accurate response plan for dealing with COVID-19 during the no-sail order to keep crew on board safe. It also means the line has returned a signed acknowledgment attesting to its plan.

As well, 'green' means there have been no confirmed cases of the virus or COVID-like illnesses on board in the last 28 days. If the ship has received ship-to-ship transfers, the crew must have come from a ship that had no confirmed cases within the 28 days before the transfer. If land-based crew embarked, they would be required to undergo an immediate 14-day quarantine.

Ships that qualify are also able to lessen certain social distancing restrictions on board.

Cruise lines with response plans accepted by CDC but that don't meet other criteria like the signed acknowledgment will still be able to disembark crew but have to use non-commercial transport — in other words, private/charter arrangements.

Lines must have measures in place to ensure those involved in transport are not exposed to the virus and follow CDC requirements to prevent interaction of disembarking crew with the public.

'Yellow' status means one or more COVID-like illnesses on a ship previously designated green. If testing is positive, the status changes to red and if negative, it goes back to green. A ship's status would also go to red if it did not meet the criteria for ship-to-ship transfers or embarkation of land-based crew.

The CDC will update each ship's color status weekly.

Green for Grand Celebration

As of Monday, only Grand Celebration had green status.

Of the 39 other cruise ships in US waters, 36 were 'provisionally green,' meaning they've met the health surveillance criteria but one or more of these steps aren't completed: review and revision of the response plan, line's signed acknowledgment of a complete and accurate plan or submission of a signed attestation for crew to travel commercially.

Where other ships stand

When it comes to Disney Cruise Line, whose response plan is under review or revision, Disney Dream and Disney Wonder are provisionally red, while Disney Fantasy is provisionally green.

MSC Cruises' plan is also under review/revision and its four ships in US waters are provisionally green.

Of 12 Norwegian Cruise Line ships, 10 are provisionally green and two provisionally red, and the company's plan is under review/revision. Oceania Cruises has three ships provisionally green and two provisionally red, while Regent Seven Seas Cruises' three ships in US waters are provisionally green.

Celebrity Cruises, with seven ships currently in US jurisdiction, has six that are provisionally green, while one, Celebrity Millennium, is provisionally red. The line's response plan is also under review/revision. Same for Royal Caribbean International, with 14 ships in US waters, nine provisionally green and five provisionally red.

Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady is provisionally red and its response plan awaits signed acknowledgment.