CDC lifts its COVID-19 cruise ship risk advisory


The agency says consumers should still consider their own health risks before taking a cruise

Anchors aweigh! After two years of cautioning travelers that venturing out on a cruise ship puts them in harm’s way for COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has lifted its risk advisory for cruise ship travel.

The news is a good sign that the prospects of contracting COVID-19 onboard a ship are fading. Just three months ago, the CDC thought things were still a bit touch-and-go and actually heightened its cruise travel warnings to the highest level (level 4) after it had investigated ships that reported COVID-19 outbreaks.

The agency is still cautioning cruisers to play it safe and is toeing a new official line that it’s up to passengers to dictate their own personal health safety before they set foot on a cruise ship.

“While cruising will always pose some risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers will make their own risk assessment when choosing to travel on a cruise ship, much like they do in all other travel settings,” a CDC spokesperson told ConsumerAffairs. “CDC will continue to provide guidance to the cruise ship industry to operate in a way that provides a safer and healthier environment for crew, passengers, and communities through CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships.”

Needless to say, the cruise industry is happy with the CDC’s move.

“Today’s decision by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to altogether remove the Travel Health Notice for cruising recognizes the effective public health measures in place on cruise ships and begins to level the playing field, between cruise and similarly situated venues on land, for the first time since March 2020,” the Cruise Lines International Association stated.

CDC expectations for cruise passengers

In an email to ConsumerAffairs, the CDC said cruise ship travelers can help keep the advisory lifted by making sure they are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines before cruise ship travel and by following their cruise ship’s requirements and recommendations. 

The CDC also recommends that travelers check their cruise ship’s color code and vaccination status classification before embarking on a cruise. The agency runs a website that gives complete information about COVID-19 cases that have been reported for each ship, whether or not an investigation is needed, additional public health measures a ship is taking, and whether a ship has opted out of the program.

Additional recommendations for travelers before, during, and after cruise travel can be found on the CDC’s Cruise Ship Travel During COVID-19 webpage. 

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