The CDC has updated its Bahamas travel advisory, advising against all travel to the Islands just weeks ahead of the cruise industry’s anticipated restart of cruises in the Caribbean.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has increased the COVID-19 level for the Bahamas from Level 3 to level 4, the highest level, without providing a specific reason why.
The CDC’s Bahamas travel advisory even says fully vaccinated Americans should not travel to the islands.
The Bahamas travel advisory on the CDC website only mentions “the current situation in the Bahamas”, without elaborating. Although there are reports of the Bahamas entering a third wave of the virus, both Bahamian Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis and Health Minister Renward Wells said there are no plans to increase COVID restrictions.
The Bahamas last week reported 297 new cases of COVID-19, up from 189 the week before. While the CDC has advised against travel to the Bahamas, it has not advised against domestic travel in the United States, even to states with higher case numbers per capita.
The Bahamas travel advisory also comes a few days after the CDC updated its advisory against all cruise travel, essentially telling Americans not to go on any cruises anywhere in the world.
With cruises resuming in various regions in the world, including Europe, the UK and Singapore, there are expectations that some Americans will travel overseas to take a cruise instead of cruising from a US port, which remain closed to all cruise ships under the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order.
Such an eventuality was mentioned by Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald in his call for the CDC to treat the cruise industry equally, citing the CDC’s decision to list flights, trains and other forms of transport as safe, but not cruises.
It should be noted that, while the UK will resume cruises in May, it has not opened up the sector to international cruise tourists, but has suggested it may do in the near future with the introduction of a traffic light system for tourists.
Many mainstream US cruise lines have announced plans to homeport ships in the Caribbean and offer fly-cruise holidays to the North American cruise market.
Crystal Cruises is planning to homeport in Nassau from July, while Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas will start operating roundtrip cruises from the city in June.
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line has also announced cruises from the US to the Bahamas in July as well, pending approval from the CDC.
The CDC has not yet placed any restrictions on travel to the Bahamas and Americans who undertake fly-cruise holidays will not be required to self-quarantine after traveling to the Bahamas.
It is advising that anyone who returns from the Bahamas be tested after arrival back in the US.
The Bahamas has its own anti-COVID-19 measures for international tourists. These include a valid PCR test five days before applying for a Bahamas Travel Health Visa and specific guidelines for each island.
The CDC will only allow cruise lines to resume cruises from the United States under the regulations of the Conditional Sailing Order, which cruise lines have called unworkable.
The CDC can either rescind the Conditional Sailing Order, or not renew it when it expires on November 1, 2021. The Conditional Sailing Order would also be automatically rescinded if the Health and Human Services’ public health emergency were cancelled.
Instead, Xavier Becerra, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, has extended the order for an additional 90 days.