The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revised its travel warning for cruise ships for the second time in the last 30 days, lowering it from high to moderate.
The Level 3 to Level 2 redesignation of cruise travel by the CDC means that it now considers the chances of catching COVID-19 aboard a cruise ship to be moderate, bringing cruising in lines with other forms of travel, such as trains and airliners.
The CDC’s revised warning for the cruise industry was reportedly made on the back of new data showing a significant drop in the incidence rate of COVID-19 aboard cruise ships.
A Level 2 warning is based on an incidence rate of between 50 and 99 new cases per 100,000 population over the past 28 days.
Although cruise passengers are still required to be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines before embarkation, there are no longer any severe travel warning for passengers over the age of 60.
The CDC recommends that cruise passengers check their cruise ship’s color code and vaccination status classification before traveling and get a COVID-19 viral test “as close to time of cruise departure as possible (no more than three days).”
However, most cruise lines continue to enforce their own more stringent health and safety protocols, such as vaccination, PCR tests 48 hours before departure and mask mandates while indoors.
Passengers should check the latest rules in place for individual cruise lines.
Facemasks should still be worn over the nose and mouth indoors or in “crowded outdoor settings” when cruising, unless inside the guests’ own cabins, according to the CDC.
“While CDC is exercising its enforcement discretion under CDC’s Mask Order to not require that persons wear a mask under certain circumstances on cruise ships participating in CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships, individual cruise lines may require travelers (passengers and crew) to wear masks onboard the ship,” the CDC said.
Cruisers are also encouraged to get tested three to five days after the cruise, even if they’re vaccinated.
The CDC says that if travelers are not up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines and are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, they should still avoid cruise ship travel.
“(The) chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is moderate, even if you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines,” the CDC concluded.