Cruises should be avoided regardless of vaccination status, the CDC says



(CNN) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday raised the level of risk of cruise travel to its highest level and said it should be avoided, regardless of vaccination status.

The agency raised the level of travel risk for cruises from level 3 to level 4, indicating that the risk of Covid-19 is “very high”.

The move “reflects an increase in cases aboard cruise ships since the Omicron variant was identified,” the CDC website says.

“Since the identification of the Omicron variant, there has been an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases among cruise passengers and crew reported to CDC. In addition, there has been an increase in the number of cruise ships that comply with the COVID-19 case. threshold for CDC investigation, “the agency said.

As of Dec. 30, the agency listed 91 ships in its yellow category, indicating that the volume of Covid cases reported has reached the CDC’s investigation threshold. That is, five more boats than were classified as yellow on December 28th. As of December 30, no vessel was classified as red, indicating that reported cases are within or above the investigation threshold.

Three boats were rated orange on Dec. 30, indicating that the reported cases are below the CDC’s investigation threshold. Sixteen vessels were listed as green, meaning the vessels had no reported cases of Covid-19.

The designations green, orange, yellow, and red indicate Covid’s status as a ship from best to worst. A gray designation is reserved for ships that the CDC has not reviewed for Covid safety.

The decision is “perplexing,” says the industry association

Cruise Lines International Association, a trade association, expressed disappointment with the CDC’s high level of risk.

“The CDC’s decision to increase the level of cruise travel is particularly disconcerting given that the cases identified on cruises constitute a very small minority of the total population on board, much less than on land, and most of these “They are asymptomatic or mild in nature, which means little or no burden on medical resources on board or ashore,” CLIA said in a statement.

The association said that “cruise ships offer a highly controlled environment with science-backed measures, levels of testing and vaccinations known well above other places or modes of transport and travel, and significantly lower incidence rates than terrestrial “.

At least four ocean-going cruise ships have been pushed out of ports of call or banned from disembarking passengers in the Americas this week due to the Covid-19 cases on board.

A statement from the U.S. Travel Association also indicated frustration with the CDC’s advice.

“The United States Travel Association sincerely hopes that today’s CDC notice highlighting recreational cruise travel, enacted despite the industry’s sound health practices and the high rate (95%) of on-board vaccination, be brief and temporary, “said Tori Emerson Barnes. the executive vice president of public affairs and politics of the association.

Tips if you decide to take a cruise anyway

While the CDC says “avoid cruise travel, regardless of vaccination status,” it advises those traveling on a cruise to make sure they are fully vaccinated and reinforced, if eligible. People on a cruise should also be tested one to three days before the trip and three to five days later, regardless of vaccination status.

Unvaccinated people should also self-quarantine for a full five days later. Cruise people should also wear masks in shared places, CDC says.

Most cruise lines require the vaccination of all or the vast majority of passengers and crew, in accordance with a conditional CDC Navigation Order that was implemented to allow cruise operations to resume more than a year after the industry stopped early in the pandemic.

Many cruise lines also require pre-departure testing, regardless of vaccination status.

Some airlines, including Royal Caribbean, require all passengers 2 years of age or older to wear masks in inland public areas, except when actively eating and drinking.

Before coronavirus variants led to an increase in innovative cases among vaccinated people, some lines did not require vaccinated passengers to wear masks in areas reserved for vaccinated guests.

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