Are Caribbean Cruises Safe? Traveling In The Times Of COVID-19

Author: Megha Agarwal on Dec 28,2021

To know if your Caribbean cruise, or any cruise ship, is safe, a new color-coded system has been developed. 


If you have already booked a cruise trip to the Caribbean or are in the process of deciding whether you should go or not, you would probably be having second thoughts. All the news surrounding Covid-19, the delta variant, and the outbreaks at sea would be bothering you. 


CDC has come to your rescue to clear all your doubts. CDC reports state that of the 24 ships currently sailing in the US waters, 15 ships have experienced virus outbreaks onboard. 


Traveling during a pandemic is never risk-free. There is always a particular threat looming upon us. Having the latest, up-to-date information helps travelers make better decisions that are well-informed and consider their physical health status and ability to take risks. 


So, are Caribbean cruises safe from Covid-19? Let’s find out! 


Color-Coded System 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a unique color-coded system. The system offers helpful information regarding the Covid-19 status of the ship that operates or plans to operate in the US waters. 


CDC, on its official website, has a table that is regularly updated several times a week. This table assigns a particular color status to every ship - orange, yellow, red, gray, or green. 


This color-coding system is based on surveillance data collected from various cruise ship investigations by CDC over the previous 7-day period. The investigation begins with the cruise crew informing the CDC of any suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 on the ship. The agency then performs the necessary tasks as required for the investigation.


What do the colors mean? 


To answer the question -- “Are Caribbean cruises safe during the pandemic?” CDC has allocated the following five colors to identify various cruise ships. 


Here is the definition of every color by CDC:


Orange: The reported cases are below CDC’s threshold for investigation. This threshold varies to restricted voyages, ships with crew-only, and simulated voyages. 


Red: The cruise ship is either at or above CDC’s threshold for passengers and crew-related Covid-19 cases. As per the investigation undertaken by CDC, the cruise ship will be subject to additional public health preventive measures, either immediately returning to the port or delaying the next cruise voyage. 


Yellow: The cruise ship meets with CDC’s threshold for investigation for both crew and passengers in terms of Covid-19 cases. The ship also meets the threshold for state and local health departments. It has notified the CDC of the passenger(s) of the Covid-19 cases occurring on the ship within five days of disembarking. 


Green: No Covid-19 cases were reported on board, nor were any illnesses reported on the ship. 


Gray: The color only applies to cruise ships that arrive in, are located within, or depart from Florida ports that choose not to follow CDC’s conditional sail order voluntarily. The color also denotes the ship operator’s health and safety protocol has either not been reviewed or confirmed by CDC. 


Cruise lines that have been rated so far



As per August 2021, cruises operated by the following cruise lines are a part of the table by CDC:


- American Queen

- Steamboat company

- Bahamas Paradise Cruise Company

- Carnival Cruise Lines

- Holland America Line

- Princess Cruises 

- Disney Cruise Line

- MSC Cruises

- Norwegian Cruise Line

- Celebrity Cruises

- Royal Caribbean International

- Silverseas Cruises Ltd. 


If you do not find a particular cruise line or a cruise ship on the table, it means that the ship is not planning to operate in the US or does not operate in the US waters during the CSO period. It can also mean that the ship has not complied with the requirements under CSO for future operations. 


Safety Ratings


Out of 67 cruise ships listed currently and rated to sail with crew and passengers, with crew only or on various simulated voyages, 40 ships have the color rating - green. This means there are no reported Covid-19 cases of any kind onboard these ships. 13 ships have the color rating of orange, 14 are yellow, and none of the ships have received the rating of red or gray. 


The safety ratings are beneficial for showing passengers and cruise enthusiasts multiple things. These safety ratings indicate the experiences and management of these cruise lines to curb Covid-19. They also give potential passengers and travelers the ability to look at a specific cruise line to know what is going on. When you know this information, you can make better-informed decisions. 


The dangerous Delta variant times


As the delta variant emerges, health and safety protocols have become even more stringent when it comes to the necessary requirements for pre-cruise testing, mandatory vaccinations, and using face masks and face shields. 


Safety measures and protocols on a cruise ship are unrivaled in the market. They are overall better than the protocols of other industries and businesses. Every passenger’s vaccine status is checked and tracked. Every cruise ship also has necessary medical facilities for testing and dealing with the spread of Covid-19. Cruise ships also have the plans required to get infected passengers back home, if needed. There is probably no other industry with such robust protocols. 


CDC recommends that public health must be prioritized since cruising always poses some risk of transmission of Covid-19. Testing and vaccinations are essential before traveling. Regardless of the color status of the cruise ship you wish to travel on, CDC suggests anyone who is not entirely vaccinated should avoid river cruising and ocean cruising. 


So, are Caribbean cruises safe?


To answer the question - are Caribbean cruises safe? - the situation varies for every individual. When cruising to the Caribbean, it could be safe for one person and pose dangers for another. 


Today, all Covid-19-era travels will obviously come with potential risks. So before traveling, you need to weigh in all the necessary information considering personal safety, health factors, and tolerance levels in terms of risk. The new CDC color-coded system does offer a metric for potential cruisers to make a wise decision, considering how tough the times are! 



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