The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made another round of travel advisory updates by increasing to level 4 for 15 countries, including some popular Caribbean cruise destinations.
More Cruise Destinations at Level 4
The CDC updated more countries to its highest travel warning level, including the popular cruise destinations of the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and St. Martin (the French side of the island). The CDC now advises “to avoid” to the 15 countries, with many being elevated from level 3 after some previously being at level 4 during the height of the pandemic.
Jamaica, one of the most popular cruise destinations on the newly updated list, was previously at level 2. At that time, the CDC said, “Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to Jamaica.” Now that Jamaica is back at level 4, it means the country has reached the criteria for an elevated level and says, “If you must travel to Jamaica, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel.”
For a country to be at level 4, there need to be more than 500 new cases over the past 28 days per 100,000 population. A secondary criteria for determining the levels is the number of tests completed per 100,000 people over 28 days. There are also different data sets for countries over or under a popular size of 100,000.
This update from the CDC follows a previous round of elevated travel advisories on January 18, also including some cruise destinations, including Bermuda, St Kitts & Nevis, Bahamas, Turks & Caicos Islands, St. Lucia, Panama, Grenada, and St. Maarten (the Dutch side of the island).
Why the Level 4 Travel Notices Don’t Matter
Even though there are many cruise destinations at the highest level and the CDC advises avoiding all travel, cruising continues. It’s crucial for cruise passengers to know that cruise ships have protocols in place to ensure they remain safe.
Despite the end of the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order, cruise lines are still voluntarily following the agency’s guidelines. It’s also up to each cruise destination whether cruise ships are allowed entry, and so far, there have only been limited cancellations due to COVID cases onboard.
The CDC also elevated its Cruise Travel Advisory to level 4 on December 30, 2021, resulting in mixed messaging on whether cruising is safe. The majority of vessels have continued to offer fantastic cruise vacations, and even Carnival Cruise Line continues to bring more ships back into service.