For many people in the United States, COVID cases on cruise ships were one of the first signs that the pandemic was going to drastically change travel. The cruise industry was hit particularly hard as advisories went out cautioning people to avoid cruising. Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially lifted that anti-cruising recommendation.
This marks the first time since the start of the pandemic in 2020 that the CDC hasn’t actively advised people against cruise ships.
“CDC is removing the COVID-19 Cruise Ship Travel Health Notice,” CDC spokesperson Dave Daigle told USA Today. “Travelers will make their own risk assessment when choosing to travel on a cruise ship, much like they do in all other travel settings.”
This comes a little less than a month after the CDC moved the cruise ship travel health notice to the “moderate” Level 2 risk. That allowed interactive experiences like cooking classes and other events.
To be fair to the cruise industry, there has been more negative attention directed toward ships versus other methods of transportation. Air travel, for example, has been on the rebound for months and the CDC has generally opted for suggesting people take the risks they’re comfortable with instead of suggesting they avoid all flights entirely. The new cruise initiative is similar — the CDC recommends full vaccination and following each cruise line’s protocols, including mask mandates.
Anyone curious about how this will impact them — and whether the cruise they intend to go on is on the safer side — can use the CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships.
The database assigns a color to ships depending on the number of cases reported, public health measures, and any investigations. Of 106 ships, 105 are participating in the CDC’s COVID program for cruise ships, and 102 ships in US waters have at least a 95 percent passenger vaccination rate.