The CDC Lowers Requirement for Cruise Ships to Be 'Highly Vaccinated' Against COVID

Now, the ships will only need to be 90% vaccinated to earn this designation.

Editor's Note: We know COVID-19 is continuing to impact your travel plans. Should you travel now, be sure to familiarize yourself with the CDC's latest guidance on domestic and international travel as well as local requirements, protocols, and restrictions for both your destination upon your arrival and your home city upon your return. Be safe out there.

The definition of a "Highly Vaccinated" cruise ship is changing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Now, instead of officiating that any ship where 95% of passengers are vaccinated is "Highly Vaccinated," only 90% of passengers must be vaccinated to earn that designation.

There are three categories that the CDC classifies cruise ships as—Not Highly Vaccinated, Highly Vaccinated, and Vaccination Standard of Excellence. Any ship with less than 90% of passengers and 95% of crew vaccinated is considered Not Highly Vaccinated, and Vaccination Standard of Excellence is for any ship that has 90% of passengers and where 95% of the crew are not only vaccinated but up to date on their COVID vaccinations. (That means they're fully vaccinated and boosted if they qualify.)

"This update is based on modeling data," CDC spokesperson Tom Skinner told USA Today. "Getting vaccinated is the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19, and CDC continues to recommend that passengers and crew are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines before cruise travel."

There are 92 cruise ships that have opted into the CDC COVID-19 program. All 92 ships are in the "Highly Vaccinated" category. Travelers can use this information along with the CDC color status for ships to make their own risk assessment before traveling on the cruise. In March, the CDC dropped its health advisory on cruise travel.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.