The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has removed cruises from their list of Covid-19 travel health advice.
This is the latest barrier for an industry seeking some semblance of pre-pandemic norms. Cruise lines continue to require passengers to be vaccinated and tested negative before boarding.
The CDC issues its notices “to make travelers and other audiences aware of health threats around the world,” and ranks travel destinations between levels 1 and 4 based on the number and history of new cases.
It included guidance for cruise ships since March 2020, when cruise ships stopped sailing from US waters for more than a year.
“The CDC’s decision to remove the travel health advisory for cruise voyages was based on the current status of the pandemic and the overall decline in Covid-19 cases aboard cruise ships in recent weeks,” CDC spokesman David Daigle said in an e-mail. Mail.
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said earlier this year it was “dismayed” that the CDC is still issuing any type of travel health advice for cruise lines.
The association welcomed the CDC decision this week, saying it “recognises the effective public health measures on cruise ships and is beginning to level the playing field between cruise and similarly located land-based venues for the first time since March 2020.”
Roger Frizzell, a spokesman for industry giant Carnival Corp., called the move an “important step forward.”
Newcomer Virgin Voyages said in a statement that the CDC’s removal of the notice demonstrates “the transition back to pre-pandemic operations” for the industry.
“While we think this has been a long time coming, we recognize this step as a demonstration of all the hard work this industry has put in to ensure we offer the safest way to travel,” said Tom McAlpin, Virgin Voyages Chief Executive made the statement.
“It’s refreshing to see that they meet us where we are and clearly where our consumers are given the large surge in demand that we have seen.”
During the Omicron wave in December, the CDC warned that even vaccinated people should avoid cruising because the risk of contracting the coronavirus was very high.
As the wave subsided, the agency softened its language, eventually stating earlier this month that the Covid-19 risk was “moderate” and recommending people keep up to date with coronavirus vaccines before cruising.
The CDC still urges travelers to keep up to date with coronavirus vaccinations before a cruise and recommends people who are immunocompromised or at risk of serious illness from the virus talk to their doctor about additional precautions .
“The virus that causes Covid-19 spreads easily between people in confined spaces on board ships,” the agency’s website said. “If the virus spreads on board a cruise ship, passengers and crew are at risk of infection, even if they are up to date with their Covid-19 vaccines.”
As part of a voluntary program, the CDC displays the immunization status and color status — which indicates whether there are any reported cases of coronavirus on board — of participating cruise ships. Of 107 ships sailing in US waters, all but one participate in the program.
This week’s tally shows that while the number of cases has dropped significantly, cruise ships are still not coronavirus-free.
As of Tuesday, 34 ships had reported enough coronavirus cases to reach the threshold for a CDC investigation; Another 35 had reported cases, but the number was not high enough to warrant an investigation.
Daigle said the agency will continue to evaluate its cruise program and the need for a cruise travel health notice as the pandemic develops.
“While cruising always poses some risk of transmission of Covid-19, travelers will make their own risk assessment when choosing to travel on a single cruise ship, similar to any other travel suspension,” he wrote in the email.
“CDC encourages travelers to check their cruise ship’s color status and vaccination status to make an informed decision before traveling on a cruise ship.”
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/cruise/an-important-step-forward-cdc-removes-pandemic-era-travel-warnings-for-cruises-41510027.html ‘A major step forward’ – CDC removes pandemic-era travel warnings for cruises