In the eyes of the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cruise vacations just got a little safer.
The U.S.-based public health agency, on Wednesday (June 16), lowered its warning for cruise ship travel for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.
As shown on the CDC’s website, the warning has dropped from “Level 4” to “Level 3," falling from "Very High" to "High".
The CDC has used this four-level system to differentiate countries with severe outbreaks of COVID-19 from countries with sustained, but controlled, spread of the virus.
Travel Health Notice (THN) levels give “specific travel advice for vaccinated and unvaccinated people,” according to the CDC’s website, while also ensuring levels reflect the current global situation and are aligned with guidance for international travel.
Non-vaxxed? Stay away
The CDC is recommending people who are not fully vaccinated to avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide.
“Since the virus spreads more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships, the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is high,” the CDC states. “It is especially important that people who are not fully vaccinated with an increased risk of severe illness avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises.”
The warning goes on to say that cruise passengers who are not fully vaccinated are “more likely to get COVID-19, which spreads person-to-person, and outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported on cruise ships.”
At the same time, the CDC is recommending cruise travellers get tested one-to-three days before their trip and three-to-five days after their trip.
“In addition to testing, passengers who are not fully vaccinated should self-quarantine for seven days after cruise travel, even if they test negative. If they do not get tested, they should self-quarantine for 10 days after cruise travel,” the CDC states.
Click here to see the CDC’s complete recommendations for cruise travellers.
Back in the USA
Similar to the policies of cruise lines, the CDC is advising travellers to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after a single dose in a one-dose series or two weeks after the second dose in a two-dose series.
Despite the relaxing of some restrictions in the U.S., the CDC is still recommending people wear masks when in a shared space, such as an airplane or a cruise ship (this applies to vaccinated people too).
In May, cruise companies received the green light from the CDC to begin test cruises as part of the health agency’s next steps for approving scaled-down sailings out of U.S. ports.
Simulated voyages are conducted to test the efficacy of an operator’s ability to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 onboard.
Several cruise lines are preparing for their big return to U.S. waters this summer, releasing itineraries out of ports in Florida, Texas and Washington.
Miami-based Celebrity Cruises will be the first company to sail with paying passengers in the United States, after 15 months of pausing, with the luxurious Celebrity Edge departing Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, June 26.
Celebrity Edge will set sail on a seven-night cruise of the Caribbean – at a reduced capacity – in what promises to be a “historic moment for the brand and the industry.”
The company said Celebrity Edge was given the green light by the CDC after having met all new standards for providing a healthy cruise experience for its guests and crew.
All crew will be vaccinated and most passengers will have to be.
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