The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is easing its cruise ship travel advice, citing a decrease in Covid-19 cases reported on vessels.
On Monday, the CDC lowered its Travel Health Notice (THN) from Level 3 to Level 2. This is the second time the CDC has lowered the THN in 2022.
The level 2 warning means there is a “moderate” risk of Covid-19. This means that cruise ships have recorded from 50 to 99 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 passengers over the last 28 days.
“The THN for cruise ship travel represents the status of the COVID-19 pandemic at this time. For travelers booking cruise travel now, be aware that the level may change as the Covid-19 pandemic evolves and may be different by the time of your cruise,” said the CDC.
Regardless of the new THN, the CDC still recommends travelers get fully vaccinated before sailing, claiming that it is “still the best way to protect yourself from severe disease, slow the spread of Covid-19, and reduce the number of new variants”.
The CDC also stated that “cruise travel should be avoided for those who are not -up to date- with Covid-19 vaccines and are at increased risk for severe illness from Covid-19.”
For the agency, “up to date” means that travelers have received all recommended doses, including any eligible booster shots.
However, since a number of outbreaks have been reported on cruise ships, the CDC urges guests to check their cruise ship’s color code and vaccination status classification before departure.
As it is customary, the CDC decisions have elicited mixed reactions. For instance, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) released a statement advocating for the removal of the THN for cruise ships.
“We look forward to the Travel Health Notice being removed for cruise ships as soon as possible, and for cruising to be recognized as setting a high bar for providing a vacation choice with comprehensive set of science-backed protocols that span the entirety of the cruise experience,” reads the statement.
Following the expiration of the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order on January 15, CDC guidelines for cruise ship operators are now voluntary.