How the CDC’s New Air Travel Requirements Could Impact Cruising

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On January 12, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control issued an Order, in effect January 25, requiring all air passengers arriving in the US from a foreign country to get tested no more than 3 days before their flight departs.

All passengers will also be required to present the negative result of the test, or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight. This puts the US in line with various other countries that have introduced similar measures over the last weeks.

UK Mutation Accelerating Measures

The mutation of COVID-19 recently discovered in the United Kingdom has governments scrambling to implement new procedures as soon as possible. The new travel requirements from the CDC are a prime example of that.

While testing 72 hours prior to travel was originally only for those passengers from the UK, the order has now been expanded to all passengers arriving in the US.

From January 25, 2021, anyone flying to the United States will therefore need to have official documentation of a negative COVID-19 test or certified proof of being a recovered patient.

The CDC recommends passengers get tested no more than 3 days before their flight to the US departs. They should also be tested with a viral test (NAAT or antigen test) to determine if currently infected with COVID-19. Not only that, any flight entering the US, even for a connection, will require testing before departure.

Cruise Flight
Photo By: Remon Rijper (Creative Commons)

International Travel Is A Major Factor For Cruises

Cruiselines have long counted on air travel to bring their passenger to them. The question is now if cruises from the US will be seeing any international passengers on board. It seems unlikely with the list of measures implemented by the CDC.

The list is growing ever longer. A guest arriving from a country outside the US would first need to be tested in their home country. After they arrive in the US, with their negative test, they will also need to be tested after 3-5 days in the United States, again before going on their cruise, and before leaving the ship again. Not only that, guests will be asked to quarantine for seven days according to the CDC:

CDC recommends that travelers get tested 3-5 days after travel AND stay home or otherwise self-quarantine for 7 days after travel. Even if you test negative, stay home for the full 7 days.

While the quarantine is stated as not mandatory, it could be demanded from those traveling from overseas, as many other countries are also doing currently. Cruising is supposed to be a fun and relaxing activity, the question is now how many people will be willing to undergo the many different procedures in place just to go on a cruise for a week.

Also Read: Why Haven’t We Had Any Test Cruises Yet?

What is more likely is that cruises leaving from the US would be out of the question for anyone not in the United States. Not only would four different tests be a strain on the passengers, but it would also be a strain on the entire infrastructure.

For those vaccinated, there is no escaping the new regulation either: All air passengers traveling to the US, regardless of vaccination status, are required to present a negative test result.

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