Cruise travel no longer carries a CDC risk warning for COVID-19.
While the measure does not mean that there is no risk of COVID-19 transmission on cruise ships, “travelers will do their own risk assessment when choosing to travel on a cruise ship, just as they do in all other travel settings,” the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
The agency removed the popular travel medium from its list of health advisories in what is certainly a relief for a sector that has put in place some of the travel industry’s strictest Covid-19 precautions.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said the decision “recognizes the effective public health measures in place on cruise ships and begins to level the playing field, between cruise ships and similar locations on land, for the first time since March 2020.”
CLIA said members of its cruise line “are sailing today with health measures in place that are virtually unmatched by any other business environment.”
The CDC still recommends travelers be up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations before going on a cruise.
They also advise travelers to consult with their doctors about additional precautions if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk of severe illness.
The CDC status of cruise travel has come a long way in recent months. Three months ago, on December 30, it was moved to the agency’s highest-risk Tier 4 travel advisory category, as the omicron variant brought a surge of cases that included a higher number of post-vaccination infections.
Cruise travel fell to Level 3, or “high” risk, in February, and then to Level 2, “moderate” risk, where it remained until removed from advisories entirely on Wednesday.
Vaccination and testing requirements have been widespread on cruise ships since large ships resumed sailing from US ports in June 2021.
The CDC’s conditional sailing order that expired in January required 95% of passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated to sail under most circumstances, and some cruise lines have required vaccination of all passengers and the crew.
The company Carnival Cruises will no longer require masks from its passengersAfter the CDC’s extended conditional sailing order expired in January, the agency transitioned to an opt-in program for foreign-flagged cruise ships operating in US waters.