Cruise Ship COVID Status Tracker (June 23): Daily Update Chart & News

As cruising returns, it does so under dramatically different protocols than when trips were suspended back in March 2020. These new procedures are all designed to limit the number of cases on ships. 

For cruise passengers, that can create a number of questions. Is it safe to cruise? What are cruise ships doing to keep passengers healthy? Is there a way to track COVID cases on cruise ships?

Currently the Centers for Disease Control offers a voluntary program to follow for ships sailing in the United States (every major cruise ship is opted in). This includes everything from policies for testing crew members, to what to do if there are cases on a ship, to recommendations surrounding masking and distancing.

In addition, the health agency publishes regular updates about the status of cases on cruise ships using a color-coded system. While it doesn’t provide actual case numbers, it does tell the public which ships have possibly had bouts of the virus. This gives insight into what’s happening on all the ships either sailing or planning to sail from the United States.

Current Color Status of Ships

Below is the current status of all ships tracked by the CDC. While the CDC only provides the latest day’s update on its website, we’ve included past days so that you can see how the status of each vessel changes. We continue to update this table regularly to track each ship’s status over time. The CDC releases new data each weekday.

Data from June 22 (posted June 23) shows 93 of 94 ships the CDC tracks have “non-green” status, indicating the possibility of COVID cases during the past seven days. (Data from June 14-16 is absent due to our travel during that time.) Keep in mind that the status changes from green with as little as one case. 

Note: A status other than green does not definitively mean cases were found on the ship, though it is most likely. “HV” stands for highly vaccinated cruise ship. More discussion of colors and vaccination status is covered in “What the Color-Coded Status Means” below.

(Click to Enlarge)

Recent Updates and Commentary

Today, 93 ships (99% of ships currently tracked) have “non-green” status. This figure has risen steadily in recent months. Currently, cruising is seeing the lowest number of “green” ships since we began tracking — including during the Omicron spike.

Just one ship was green as of the latest update. Four ships are yellow. Eighty-nine have orange status: 

Ships with status changes to or from “green” since last update:

  • Norwegian Getaway (Green to Yellow) 👇
  • Celebrity Summit (Yellow to Green) 👆

Ships removed from list:

  • N/A

Ships added to list:

  • Seabourn Odyssey
  • Oceania Insignia

– During the course of the CDC’s tracking, the status of ships typically follows cases on land. The number of green ships bottomed and then rebounded sharply following the Omicron wave. However, there has been a downturn in the number of green ships in recent months. From a recent peak of 58 green ships in mid-March, the figure has fallen to just one vessel.

The current count of one green ship is lower than the previous low of nine ships during the peak of the Omicron wave. That doesn’t mean there are necessarily more total cases on cruise ships (case counts aren’t released), however, more ships are being impacted.

Still, at the moment 99% of cruise ships are either yellow or orange, meaning that nearly all cruise ships have apparent Covid cases.

– After dropping its Travel Health Notice from Level 4 (the highest level) to Level 2 in a matter of weeks, the CDC completely removed its Travel Health Notice for cruising. 

So what does this mean for cruise passengers? Well, you shouldn’t expect protocols like vaccines and testing to go anywhere soon. The CDC’s voluntary “COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships” is still in place, offering the guidelines for cruise lines the follow.

– With the fall in the number of green ships, Cruzely offered some commentary on what passengers should know surrounding cruises and Covid. For example, cases seem to be higher, however, specific case numbers are not released. Meanwhile, cases appear relatively mild according to comments from cruise lines and health departments.

What the Color-Coded Status Means

The table above tracks roughly 90 cruise ships across more than a dozen cruise lines. Each day cruise ships can voluntarily submit the “Enhanced Data Collection (EDC) During COVID-19 Pandemic Form” to the CDC. This gives the agency insight into COVID or COVID-like illness on the vessel.

The agency then assigns one of four colors — green, yellow, orange, and red — to each ship, depending on the daily reports. The table is updated several times a week, providing a simple color-coded way to see where there might be issues.

Updates to the Color Status
Previously, the CDC’s color status varied from green, to orange, yellow, then red. Starting in mid-February, the new order is green, yellow, orange, then red. The agency said the orange and yellow colors were switched “to go in a more logical color order.”

As well, status now depends on the number of possible cases based on both passengers and crew. Previously, cases among either passengers or crew could lead to a different color status, depending on who was sick.

Now if there are cases but they are under 0.3% of combined passengers and crew on the ship, then yellow status is given. Cases above 0.3% of those onboard (3 cases out of 1,000 people onboard) earns orange status. Red is still available for higher spread.

Source: CDC.gov.

Colors are assigned based on the number of possible cases and the ship’s current sailing status (sailing with passengers or crew only).

Green: No reports of COVID or COVID-like illness for seven days and on-time daily submission of EDC forms for the past week.

Yellow: COVID of COVID-like illness reported in the last seven days. If sailing with passengers, the level reported is less than 0.3% of passengers and crew. If sailing with crew only, then cases are less than 1% of all crew.

Orange: Cases for more than 0.3% of passengers and crew if sailing with passengers. If sailing crew only, then cases reported in more than 1% of crew. Failing to submit a daily EDC report on-time also gives orange status.

Red: Sustained transmission of illness or the potential for cases to overwhelm medical resources on the ship. Failing to submit a daily EDC report also gives red status.

Gray: Indicates no data for the ship due to it choosing not to comply with the CDC’s voluntary program.

White (N/A): Ships that either have recently left sailing from the U.S. or have just arrived to sail from the U.S. We have marked the days before or after CDC tracking as “N/A” since there is no data. We remove the ship from the table 10 days after it is no longer tracked. This status is not an official color designation by the CDC, but we use it to show which ships have recently arrived or left.

Vaccination Status for Ships
In addition to changing the color status, the CDC also introduced different vaccination levels for ships to give the public more insight: 

Not Highly Vaccinated (NHV): These are ships sailing with less than 90% of passengers and 95% of crew fully vaccinated.

Highly Vaccinated (HV): Ships with at least 90% of passengers and 95% of crew fully vaccinated, but less than than those amounts considered “up to date” with their vaccines. “Up to date” means having a booster dose of the vaccine if eligible.

Vaccination Standard of Excellence (VSE): This new category encompasses ships that have at least 90% of passengers and 95% of crew “up to date” with their COVID vaccines, meaning eligible passengers have a booster shot.

What Cruise Ships Are Doing to Keep Passengers & Crew Healthy

Masking at terminal

While cruise ships are linked to the early days of the pandemic, they have taken extraordinary steps to limit the number of cases on board. In fact, while cases have been reported regularly on ships, the total numbers and spread appear to be small. Omicron did increase cases, however.

To keep passengers healthy, cruise lines are using vaccines and testing as the cornerstones of their plans. Ships sailing require vaccination for nearly all passengers who are eligible.

In addition to vaccines, cruise lines require tests for all passengers before boarding, even if they have the shot. 

While some lines are allowing a small number of unvaccinated passengers sail, more restrictions are usually placed on these guests. For instance, multiple tests are required before and during sailing. Travel insurance is required in many instances. Some areas of the ship may be off-limits if a passenger doesn’t have the shot.

Already we’ve seen the protocols change to adapt to variants. There will be more changes in store, depending on the direction of virus cases on land.

Is it Safe to Take a Cruise?

There is little doubt that unabated, illness can spread in the close confines of a cruise ship. That said, the measures taken by cruise lines and the CDC have helped to limit cases.

Royal Caribbean Group, for example, said toward the start of 2022 they had seen about 1.3 million passengers sail and reported 2,500 cases among them (crew cases were not disclosed). That comes out to about 0.2%.

Still, during the Omicron spike cases did rise on ships. Between December 15 and December 29, there were more than 5,000 cases on ships tracked by the CDC, according to The Washington Post, citing CDC data. (The CDC typically doesn’t release case numbers.) We’ve also seen the number of ships with possible cases rise since March.

The CDC removed its Travel Health Notice regarding cruise travel — a major step and a sign of confidence in cruising. The agency still recommends that passengers be “up-to-date” on their vaccination, meaning having a booster shot if eligible.

The protocols in place still seem to keep cases lower than what may be seen on land, but it should be obvious that most cruise ships right now appear to have cases onboard. Cases do seem to be more mild than with past variants. Still, there has been a rise in the number of orange ships that is worth noting for people who are risk-averse.

There’s little argument that if there are cases on land, then there can be cases on ships. The good news is that with the mitigation efforts put in place by cruise lines, these cases are also more likely to be found and contained, especially compared to other places like sports stadiums, airports, or land-based resorts. 

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25 COMMENTS

  1. Remember, with cruising comes travel to the ports. My wife and I traveled from Detroit to Seattle, leaving one very crowded airport and touching down in another very crowded airport for a layover. We also spent several days in Seattle prior to boarding the cruise ship – and did several tours in Seattle and spent the day in a very crowded Pike Street Market. Who is to say when someone is infected????

    I felt safer on the Holland America cruise than I did at any of the airports, the hotel, the tours and restaurants between point A and B.

  2. Got on the Carnival Dream in May 2022.It started out great the first four days, then I started hearing people coughing here and there,then started seeing red bio-hazard bags in hallway.I figured at that moment that Covid was pretty rampant on the ship, but there was never a notification from staff, cruise director or anyone regarding or reiterating what was going on or increasing any safety measures. We tried to stay safe, took distant routes,and took stairs but there was pretty much no way around it with so many on board.
    After the cruise,we exited the ship.I noticed that on my Facebook group,I stopped seeing beach pictures and started seeing sick notification posts.People were posting that they were not feeling well and tested positive when they got home.It was well over 100 positive from the group that I know, I can only imagine what the total count would be as the ships total count.
    I was with a family member on this trip,in the same room on our eight day cruise.Afterwards, we drove four hours to get home.She was tired and had chills and a headache on the way home.She tested positive at home.We immediately quarantined at home.I didn’t have symptoms but I was sure I had to have it especially with all the day to day interactions.I have other family members in my home and I did not want to take a chance of spreading it to them.
    Surprisingly, I did not end up testing positive.All I can think of is that I received the booster fourteen days before boarding and I am sure that is what helped me. I had been debating on getting it, but glad that I did.My family member recovered but was very ill for a few days and still has a lingering light cough.
    In my opinion,the cruise lines should also have people boarding show that they have had a CURRENT booster at least 14-20 days before the cruise instead of just needing to show a negative test at boarding and proof of PAST vaccinations.
    I also found out that the cruise that went before us on The Carnival Dream as well as Carnival Vista had many cases as well and they continue to have many cases today.
    All I can say is , I Wish I knew then what I know now.Oh well.

  3. My wife and I got Covid during our Alaska cruise on the Crown Princess last week, June 4-11. We all had the boosters and took every precaution. Didn’t matter. For several days we had 12 foot seas and 50 knot winds. They auto locked the balcony doors at that point and we were unable to get any outside fresh air. Air system the culprit?

  4. We got off the NCL Sky on June 3 while in Covid quarantine. The whole thing was handled horribly by NCL. We left with at minimum a dozen other people in our quarantine group from our part of the hall. On the Facebook group for our roll call dozens are now positive since Friday. We were tricked into signing paperwork that they filled in meds after signing and prices. We froze our card on board after receiving $800 charges each for Paxlovid. We would have never signed for that. We actually signed that paper before even leaving our room to head to quarantine or receiving any Paxlovid. In fact we signed a paper saying everything medical on board was complimentary. They tried to not let us leave. Then they dropped us at a hotel they said they had an agreement with. They said they knew we were coming with Covid and had a room ready. We verified this with NCL before agreeing to be dropped there. None of it was true. Hotel had no idea and told us they continue to drop people there having told them this. We were dropped in a lobby full of unsuspecting guests with no place to be quarantined to keep them protected. The whole thing was horrible.

  5. My boyfriend and I just debarked Carnival Horizon yesterday. We both started having mild symptoms Saturday and today we both test positive for covid. I’m vaccinated and boosted, he’s vaccinated. Our cruise director came down with covid two days into the cruise. This is our first time ever having covid. We both have been so careful and we let our guard down, and now are paying the price. I wish I didn’t go on the ship!

  6. Carnival is scheduling more four and five day cruises because Omicron COVID symptoms take longer than four days to develop. I just came back from a four day cruise on the Carnival Miracle. After two days at home from the cruise the COVID hit me like a truck. Carnival does not report COVID rates from four day cruises and should be more honest about infection rates on ships. The Miracle was built in 2003 and I suspect many of the cabins share the same HVAC system thus spreading the virus from one cabin to several others. Carnival is operating under a ” don’t look up” attitude and on the basis that the Omicron variant is not that serious. A lot of jobs and profits are at stake , but that is no excuse to willfully spread a virus and not trying to pinpoint sources/data of the spread on ships such as which cabins are more dangerous. I would suspect inside cabins. Good news is that my doctor says I should be over the virus in 4-5 miserable days.

    • I don’t know if that’s the case. Right now the vast majority of ships — no matter what sort of cruises they sail — are orange. As well, even with shorter cruises the crew is still on the ship for longer times and crew case counts also impact the standing of ships.

      It seems the U.S. is in another wave. Cruise passengers should know that there is a risk of Covid. The number of ‘green’ ships has fallen sharply since March.

      Hope you get to feeling better soon!

  7. Why is the Wonder of the Seas not listed? We were on the trans-Atlantic voyage beginning Apr20 from FLL and there were at least 30 cases of covid – I was one of them.

    • Since Wonder of the Seas left the U.S., it is no longer tracked by the CDC. When it returns later this year, it should be on the list.

  8. It appears that the Koningsdam has Yellow for the last 2 weeks of November.
    We are debating whether to take our cruise of December 12th or postpone …
    Any thoughts appreciated

    • James, it’s impossible to say. It really depends on your personal situation and risk tolerance. I will say that yellow could mean as little as one case on the ship, if it’s with a member of the crew. Unfortunately, specific numbers aren’t shared, so we just don’t know.

      The nice thing about cruises is that you do know everyone is vaccinated and tested before getting on the ship. Bottom line: cases no doubt can be found on ships, but there are also more rigorous protocols than just about anywhere else. It depends on if you’re comfortable or not with the situation.

  9. Considering a cruise on a ship recently coded as yellow (Koningsdam). That could mean they haven’t submitted their daily report, or have a certain number of crew, or percentage of passengers sick. That could mean only one crew or two passengers or many more. How can I get a report of the exact number of suspected infections?

    • So that ship has now been turned back green — indicating no possible cases in the past seven days. Unfortunately, specific numbers of cases are not released to the public.

  10. Why is the Sky Princess ship not listed? We’re interested in knowing the colors of that particular ship. Can you please assist us in getting this information? Thank you!

    • Looks like she doesn’t sail from the U.S. until November, so the ship isn’t under the CDC’s orders. Expect more insight in a few weeks.

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