The CDC has lowered the health risk advisory for travel on cruise ships. The cruise industry has suffered a turbulent time throughout the pandemic, at one point having virtually all cruise operations suspended. However, even when cruises were allowed to resume once more, the CDC still recommended against travelers taking cruises – despite cruise ships having had some of the most rigorous Covid-19 related restrictions in place for several months now.
With the CDC finally lowering the health risk advisory for cruise ships – at a time when cruise ships themselves are moving away from some Covid-19 related restrictions – we could be set for a boom in the cruising industry as confidence in the industry picks up once more. Here’s a look at the CDC’s decision to lower the advisory, what it mean for the cruise industry, plus other notable stories to emerge from the industry in recent weeks.
Health Risk Advisory Lowered – Information For Travelers
In order to keep travelers informed of the risks associated with travel in the wake of the pandemic, the CDC began issuing Covid-19 Travel Health Notices not only to countries, but to the cruise industry as well. Both countries and the cruise industry are now awarded a travel health notice that comes in four distinct levels – with Level 1 being the least severe and Level 4 being the most severe.
Cruise travel can be placed in either of the following categories:
- Level 4: Very high level of Covid-19. Avoid cruise ship travel at this time.
- Level 3: High level of Covid-19 . Make sure you are up to date with your Covid-19 vaccines before cruise ship travel. Avoid travel if not up to date with vaccines or at increased risk of severe illness.
- Level 2: Moderate level of Covid-19 . Make sure you are up to date with your Covid-19 vaccines before cruise ship travel. If you are not up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and are at increased risk for severe illness from Covid-19 , avoid cruise ship travel.
- Level 1: Low level of Covid-19 . Make sure you are up to date with your Covid-19 vaccines before cruise ship travel.
Over the past few months, the Travel Health Notice level of cruise travel has fallen significantly. The turn of the year saw traveling on a cruise ship assessed at Level 4, a time when several outbreaks were reported on board ships. That soon fell to Level 3 last month as the situation continued to improve, before cruise travel was reassessed by the CDC to have Level 2 status on March 14th.
Despite the lowering of its level, the CDC still recommends that travelers take steps to protect themselves against the virus whilst on a cruise. As well as being up to date with vaccines, the CDC recommends travelers test for the virus both pre and post-cruise travel. It also recommends that travelers wear masks on board – a rule that more and more cruise lines are starting to repeal.
Speaking about the decision to lower the Travel Health Notice, CLIA – the cruise industry’s largest trade association – praised the cruise industry’s efforts in dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks and mitigation efforts.
“CLIA cruise line members continue to sail with some of the highest levels of COVID-19 mitigation, with effective health and safety protocols that are unmatched by virtually any other commercial setting. As a result, the vast majority of cases that have occurred have been mild and addressed swiftly based on pre-arranged response plans.”
The decision also comes at a time when things are really looking up for both the cruise industry and cruise passengers. Not only are more cruises restarting every month, but this year has already seen a number of feel-good stories, such as record-breaking ships being launched and work starting on a new mega-terminal in Miami – not to mention mask rules being eased across the industry.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories