CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A cruise ship based out of Charleston is currently under investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for possibly having COVID-19 cases.

Carnival Sunshine, operated by Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc., was scheduled to return to sailing out of the Port of Charleston beginning January 13th – one of the company’s 17 ships slated to begin voyages in the new year.

The ship, however, is operating under a “restricted” status. The CDC this week updated its ship color status to ‘Yellow,’ which means there have been reported cases of COVID-19 on the vessel and meets its threshold for investigation.

The CDC says any cases reported in the 0.10% or more of passengers would require an investigation. For example, if there are 6,500 passengers on the ship, seven or more cases would require investigation by the health agency or one of more cases reported in its crew.

It’s unclear how many people or crew are currently aboard the ship while it operates in restricted status.

Nearly two years since a cruise ship made Charleston a port of call, Norwegian’s Gem – a more than 2,000 passenger ship – docked at the port authority’s Union Pier Terminal on December 21st and again on the 28th.

Carnival Sunshine is expected to arrive without passengers at the port on January 11th where it will prepare for return voyages to the Bahamas and the Eastern Caribbean.

News 2 reached out to the SC Ports after the ‘Gem’ arrived in the harbor last week.

“Following a long-term pause in cruise operations since March 2020 in response to the global pandemic, SC Ports has worked with cruise partners and DHEC to align with all CDC requirements and cruise line protocols as cruise operations resume,” said Liz Crumley with the South Carolina Ports Authority in a statement.

Guidance from the port shows it has contracted a vendor to deploy disinfectant materials to large areas and will disinfect the passenger terminal and gangway ahead of each vessel’s arrival.

While a ship is at the dock, a disinfection team will disinfect high-touch areas on a constant basis, including handrails, doorknobs, and other surfaces.

Facemasks are also required to be worn by all staff, guests, and crew members.

According to the port authority’s health safety protocol, if an infectious disease – like COVID-19 – is suspected or diagnosed, the senior doctor will notify responsible senior officers. Reporting to shoreside authorities will be notified after a full evaluation has been completed.

“When all information and data is available and has been evaluated, CSL Corporate Medical, in cooperation with the vessel’s medical team, will notify the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Port Authority, and Port Agent.”