CDC Requires Masks for Cruise Ship Passengers and Crew

Effective on February 2, 2021, a mandatory mask Order was issued by the CDC and applies to all passengers on public transportation. The requirement to wear a mask extends to more than just buses and trains, your first thought for public transportation. The Order applies to what many of us have been waiting to learn and expecting would happen:  mask requirements for cruise ship passengers.

 wearing a mask on board Alaska Ferry cruise
Alaska required all passengers to wear a mask on board the three-night ferry to Washington. Most passengers decided not to wear a mask, though.

Cruise Ship Passengers are Required to Wear a Mask, Per CDC Order

Even though it will be a while until we can embark on a cruise, when it finally happens, passengers will be required to wear a mask. Getting into a little detail, the Order covers “airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, ride-shares” that travel into, within or out of the United States. That statement covers ships at sea in international waters, since they departed from a U.S. port.

Also included in the new requirement are the people who operate transportation equipment, such as crew aboard cruise ships and ferries, ride-share drivers, train conductors, etc. Transportation hubs like ship terminals, train and subway stations will also require that masks be worn. 

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How Passengers Must Wear Their Masks

People must wear masks that cover both the mouth and nose when waiting for, boarding, traveling on, or disembarking public transportation. Everyone must also wear a mask when entering or on the premises of a transportation hub in the United States.

The CDC also has issued a statement regarding the mask itself to explain the requirements. The CDC included that they will update this guidance as needed.

Mask Requirements for Travel

  • A properly worn mask must completely cover the nose and mouth.
  • Cloth masks should be made with two or more layers of a breathable fabric, tightly woven so that light doesn’t shine through it.
  • Mask should be secured to the head with ties, ear loops, or elastic bands that go behind the head.
  • Neck gaiters should have two layers of fabric or be folded to make at least two layers.
  • Masks should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face. If your glasses fog, it’s not the right fit for your face. 
  • Masks should be a solid piece of material without slits, exhalation valves, or tears. 

Types of Acceptable Masks

  • Masks can be either manufactured or homemade.
  • Masks can be reusable or disposable.
  • Masks can have inner filter pockets.
  • Clear masks or cloth masks with a clear plastic panel may be used to facilitate communication with people who are hearing impaired or others who need to see a speaker’s mouth to understand speech.
  • Medical masks and N-95 respirators fulfill the requirements of the Order.

Masks that do not pass muster

  • Masks worn that do not cover both the mouth and nose
  • Face shields or goggles. These can be worn in addition to a mask that meets the requirements.
  • Scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, or bandanas
  • Shirt or sweater collars like turtlenecks pulled up over the mouth and nose.
  • Masks made from loosely woven fabric or knitted that let light pass through
  • Masks made from materials that are hard to breathe through
  • Masks containing slits, exhalation valves, or punctures
  • Masks that do not fit properly with large gaps, or are too loose or too tight

When We Can Cruise Again

While we are all anxious to return to cruising as we once knew it, it’s going to be some time until those days return. In the meantime, if passengers and crew wear a mask on board, then the cruise lines can at least get back into the business of cruising. Crew can return to their jobs, ports might welcome tourists again soon and we’ll be able to do what we love so much to do; cruising.

Yes, the entire cruise experience and passengers and crew will seem odd at first. But at least it’s a step in the right direction to get back on cruise ships and enjoy being at sea.

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