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The CDC Warns U.S. Travelers Against Cruise Ship Travel Worldwide

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The CDC has warned all U.S. travelers against cruise ship travel worldwide as the no sail order is set to expire in just a few days.

The level 3 warning states that the “CDC recommends that travelers defer all cruise travel worldwide.”

The reasoning behind the warning says “Widespread ongoing spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been reported in some countries. Other countries have reported sustained community spread.”

MSC Cruise Ship at Norway Port (1)

The warning that was updated on October 21st is not new but recommends cruise ship travel should be deferred.

The addition came to the existing warning that the CDC issued back in spring when the pandemic infected dozens of cruise ships around the world.  

The update to the warning has many people puzzled as it came with just days to go before the CDC's “No Sail” order is set to expire.

Royal Caribbean

News Media has previously reported that CDC Director Robert Redfield wanted the no-sail order extended through February 2021 but was reportedly overruled by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

With the no sail order set to expire it could be that the U.S. government will not allow the order to be extended any longer but the CDC wants to take a hard stance that it does not recommend travelers take cruises. 

Costa Cruise Ship

With the cruise industry restarting around the world in Italy, Malta, Singapore and the Caribbean, more than 10 cruise lines have now resumed operations. 

Two of the largest cruise lines to successfully resume cruising so far without a single case of COVID-19 are Costa Cruises and MSC which have paved a pathway for COVID-19 prevention on board. 

Royal Caribbean Ship with logo

The CDC also reported in their warning that “Cruise passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, and outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported on several cruise ships.”

Carnival Cruise ship in the Caribbean

The CDC did note it does not typically post advisories for cruise ships but because of the unprecedented nature of the  pandemic, and the increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 on cruise ships, the CDC is advising travelers to defer all cruise travel.

The CDC said reports of COVID-19 on cruises highlight the risk of infections to cruise passengers and crew.

“Like many other viruses, COVID-19 appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships and boats. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, there remains a risk of infected passengers and crew on board cruise ships,” the CDC said. 

Msc cruise ship docked

Several of the major U.S. cruise lines have scheduled tentative restart dates according to their official websites before the end of this year or early 2021. 

Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings together created the ‘Healthy Sail Panel'  which consists of some of the country’s leading health experts to develop guidelines to return to cruising.

The panel’s recommendations were submitted to the CDC in September and included entry testing for all passengers and crew.

Carnival Cruise Ship Docked in Bahamas with two other ships

Even with the global pandemic people are still booking cruises. Cruise line executives, including Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio and Carnival Corporation (CCL) CEO Arnold Donald, have been outspoken about the fact future cruise sales indicate there is a strong demand from passenger wanting to return to sea.

Norwegian Cruise ship painting in dock

Source: CDC

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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


Tuesday 27th of October 2020

I would say that I'm cautiously optimistic about this. The US State Dept quietly changed its travel alert level for Americans from 4 to 3 back in August, which effectively meant it was easier to travel abroad. I'm hopeful that the CDC is doing something similar here. Rather than stopping all cruises, it's encouraging Americans to rethink them. I see that as a very positive step. I guess we'll know more if/when the No Sail Order is lifted.


Monday 26th of October 2020

Uummmm .... yay??