Who Is The CDC And Why Are They Stopping Cruising?

who is The CDC

You may have heard the term ‘CDC’ in relation to cruise recently, even more in the past couple of weeks with Mike Pence making a statement to over-rule them, but are you wondering ‘Who is the CDC and why are they stopping cruising anyway??’

It’s a very good question…so let me explain.

NB: The information below is taken from their updated statements as of 30 September 2020


Who is the CDC?

CDC stands for ‘Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘ (I’m guessing the ‘Prevention’ was a later addition!). They are one of the major operating components for the Department of Health and Human Services, a health protection agency for the nation (US).

Who is the CDC

What does the CDC do?

Their role is to protect all Americans from the risk of diseases, health and safety threats, both domestic and international. They do this through preparing healthcare workers, research, education, and supporting the front line workers and Government officials.

Why do they have the authority to allow cruises to operate?

It starts in 1944 with the passage of the Public Health Service Act into US Federal Law. Under this law, the Federal Government has the authority to quarantine for the first time and it gave the US Public Health Service the responsibility of preventing the spreading of transmittable diseases from foreign countries into the USA.

The US Public Health Service is made up of many divisions within the Department of Human and Health Services, one of which is the CDC. Under section 361 of the Public Health Service Act, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorised to manage the prevention of communicable diseases entering and being spread within the US from foreign countries.

The authority for carrying out these functions on a daily basis has been allocated to the CDC.

cruise ship

The Vessel Sanitation Program

Jump forward to the 1970s when the CDC developed the VSP, Vessel Sanitation Program as a “cooperative activity with the cruise ship industry”. Essentially, it was created to manage the outbreak of gastrointestinal diseases, because ships were in foreign waters and therefore it fell under their authority of ‘preventing diseases from foreign countries’.

This program operated in all major US Ports from the 1970s to 1986 when parts of the program were terminated by the CDC.

Pressure from the public and cruising industry led to the Congress ordering the CDC to resume the VSP program, and as a result, the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) at CDC became responsible for the VSP.

This has led to the CDC having a key role in cruise ships being authorised to sail in the US.

Vessel Sanitation Program

What is the “No Sail” Order?

Under the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Public Service Health Acts under the CDC, they have the ability to create policies which are necessary to prevent the spread of transmittable diseases from foreign countries into the US.

It was first introduced following the outbreak of Covid-19 on Diamond Princess and Grand Princess in January 2020 but has continued to be extended.

The first No Sail Order was put in place on 14 March, extended until April 15, then further extended to July 16 and currently until 31 October. This order applies to all commercial cruise ships with the capacity of over 250 passengers, including crew staying overnight and who operate under the US jurisdiction, or who operate in foreign waters but plan to enter US waters whilst the Order is in place. It does not apply to cargo ships.

The order is currently in effect until one of the following happens:

* The Secretary of Health and Human Services declares that Covid-19 is no longer a public health emergency

* The CDC Director modifies the order based on health considerations

* 31 October 2020

Diamond Princess

The CDC’s Rules for Ships

The CDC states that the high density of passengers on cruise ships makes them more susceptible to outbreaks of Covid-19, in particular, by crew in close living quarters who could carry the disease from voyage to voyage.

They are concerned also that guests from cruises are travelling through many countries, potentially spreading the disease globally too.

As part of the No Sail Order, all cruise ships are required to provide comprehensive plans on how they will prevent and combat onboard diseases and the spread of Covid 19, and a colour coded system has been initiated to grade how high a risk each ship is and what instructions are to be followed for their crew onboard.

These plans include mandatory masks, removal of buffet dining areas, reduction in passenger numbers, enforced quarantine for all crew members before joining ships, and many more.

masked crew member

    Photo courtesy of Fortune.com

Mike Pence Overrules Additional Extension

So what’s the latest? Well, the CDC has advised that the No Sail order should continue into February 2021 as they don’t believe that Covid-19 can be controlled enough for guests to be kept safe and for the disease to not continue spreading globally through cruise travel.

The White House is ignoring this advice and has instructed the order to finish 31 October 2020 and to allow the cruises to operate again, under their submitted plans for guest safety.

This is great news for the cruise industry, one which has seen over 100,000 crew members stranded at sea since March, as per New York Daily News. But it is a wise decision from a passenger safety perspective?

Mike Pence                       Photo courtesy of TheGuardian.com


Do you feel safe to get back on a ship for your next cruise, or will you be waiting for the pandemic to be completely over? Do you think cruises can manage to keep the disease at bay, or are we just asking for another outbreak?

I’d love to know your views on this controversial subject, please drop them below and I’ll respond to all.

Thanks for reading – see you next time!

Wendy A x

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Who is the CDC


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14 comments / Add your comment below

    1. It’s hard to believe they’re not safe with the extreme measures cruises go to with their sanitising isn’t it. I’ve never felt safer than when we were in our ship ‘bubble’ hey! Thanks for taking the time to read this Peggy, always appreciate it! x

  1. I want to cruise. I want to support all the workers. But I know Canada is currently closing things down again. And numbers are beginning to climb again here in most US states. And I believe in following the science not Mike Pence.

    If I were the cruise industry I’d wait. The elections in November could see a turn over in the politics here. If so, the new administration would take over on January 20. I suspect they would be giving more weight to what the CDC says.

    1. It’s such a tough one isn’t it. I was 100% towards getting back on board, but I did a lot of research for this post and the science is a little scary to be honest… So many countries have increasing numbers of Covid, it’s so far from being under control, and I can’t imagine that’s going to change by 1 November…but our life is impacted so badly with cruising halted, we need work again… It’s not an easy call.
      Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment Anne, I appreciate it!

  2. I think with the new guidelines for cleanliness onboard ships that it will be fine. If someone is at a higher risk maybe they should wait on many things until there is a vaccine. But for the rest of us, if taking the precautionary measures, I don’t see why not. Too much quality of life has already been lost with the lockdown, it’s time to move on with life and figure out how we can live with the virus among us.

    1. Maybe that is the way to go Tina, that they only allow people with a full bill of health on board to minimise risks? Hopefully everyone is fully tested before they board too, they’re getting better with the speed of results for that to certainly help with it being plausible to get going again…
      I am desperate to get back on board! Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment 🙂

  3. I’ve been traveling and doing quarantine upon arrival where required to keep the vulnerable population safe. I think the younger, non-vulnerable population should be living life to keep the economy moving. We just need to be mindful so we keep high-risk people safe. I hope they can start testing upon arrival and then 7 days after instead of broad quarantine orders. Its worrying how many people are out of work because of this.

    1. Hey Jaime, I’ve seen your travels and wondered how you were able to do that! We’re not allowed out of Australia at the moment, so it’s not even an option. I actually can’t even leave Victoria at the moment, let alone the country! I’m happy to do quarantine if I could. Have you had to pay government fees to do the quarantine each time, or do you just choose your own accommodation and stay there? x

  4. As a lover of cruise holidays and having our first Viking cruise cancelled as much as I don’t like to say but I cannot see I will cruise again, I know Viking were hoping to get a ship into Australia for Australians in Australia and at this stage our government is not on board, if we cruise again in a year or two it will only be Australia

    1. Hey Jenn, thanks for reading. Yes, Australia is certainly one of the most strict countries at the moment. Europe has started cruising again without any issues so far, let’s hope that continues so the industry can start to get back on its feet, and then Australia can see that it’s safe and follow suit too.

  5. So……… Dreaming of cruising again is not quite sufficient. We have already booked with Viking for Egypt Spring 2021, by which time we feel that it should be ‘safe’ to travel albeit probably with a very different set of protocols.
    Viking did an amazing job returning us from the middle of our last World cruise, so much so that we are hoping by 2021 to turn our Egypt trip into completing the last 72 ‘missing’ days of our World Cruise.
    As to next year we are hoping to travel but are hesitant to make any plans as we are in that 67+ category where we would probably be smart to wait for a vaccine. I am with the science also, although I feel for our many onboard friends, staff included in that reference, it is so hard to step off the dock at present.
    Looking for a brighter future with many sails on the horizon.

    1. Ah, so exciting to have cruises booked in 🙂 And to finish what we all started…!! You guys definitely need to play it safe, it’s just not worth the risk. We can’t wait to get back on board with you both, it will happen one day! x

  6. It’s such a hard call. Just when I think things are calming down and we are getting things under control, there is a new spike. I feel awful for the people like you whose careers are affected by this but I want you safe too!

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