The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) downgrades its warning on cruise ship travel from level 4, which is the highest, to level 3. The notice has also shifted for those travelers who are not fully vaccinated.
This news comes as the cruise industry in the U.S. is restarting cruise operations from the end of June 2021. All the major cruise lines have already released plans on which cruise ships will begin sailings this summer.
CDC Cruise Travel Level
The CDC has lowered the level down to 3 on its cruise ship warning page. Previously, the warning was at its highest at level 4 with the recommendation to avoid all cruise ship travel. With the vaccines rolling out across the country successfully and in other parts of the world, taking a cruise vacation is not as risky as before.
The CDC last updated its cruise travel warning in April when the level was at its highest.
Along with lowering the warning level, the CDC has shifted the warning for those travelers who are not fully vaccinated. It previously applied to all travelers. In the update on June 16, the CDC says, “Lowered from Level 4 to Level 3, and specified the notice is for travelers who are not fully vaccinated.”
Even though the level has been downgraded, the CDC still recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated avoid traveling on cruise ships worldwide. It also mentions that the chance of getting infected on a cruise ship is still high.
In recent months, cruise lines have been working with the CDC to work through the difficulties of resuming cruise operations. There are two routes for cruise lines to choose from, with restricted voyages for unvaccinated cruisers or voyages for fully vaccinated cruisers with fewer restrictions onboard.
The major cruise lines are initially resuming cruises for 95% of fully vaccinated cruisers. By going down this route, the onboard experience would not be reduced compared to a full restricted sailing. However, for cruises out of Florida, the situation is more complicated due to the ban on requesting proof of vaccination. Cruise lines are choosing their words carefully so passengers would freely show their proof. If cruise lines request a proof in Florida, there could be a fine of $5,000 each time.
With the virus set to remain for some time, it’s likely the level warning would not go down even further any time soon. However, it’s s step in the right direction for the cruise industry, with the CDC pushing ahead and making the right decisions.
The CDC and cruise industry has only recently started moving forward on resuming operations. Earlier in 2021, the situation was looking hopeless, with the CDC releasing “largely unworkable” technical instructions as part of the Conditional Sailing Order.