The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States is recommending that citizens avoid cruises, due to increases in onboard COVID-19 cases since identification of the Omicron variant.
The announcement, made on Thursday, notes the risk level for cruise ship travel has been bumped up from Level 3 to Level 4 (the highest) indicating the risk for COVID-19 is “very high.”
At least four ocean cruise ships were turned away from ports of call or were prohibited from letting passengers disembark in the Americas this week because of COVID-19 cases aboard.
For those still opting to cruise, the CDC advises them make sure they are fully vaccinated and boosted, if eligible and wear masks in shared places. In addition, it recommends that people who go on a cruise should also get tested one to three days before their trip, and three to five days after, regardless of vaccination status.
The unvaccinated should also self-quarantine for a five full days after.
Most cruise lines require all or the majority of passengers and crew to be vaccinated, in compliance with a CDC Conditional Sailing Order implemented to allow cruise operations to resume more than a year after the industry came to a standstill at the start of the pandemic.
Many cruise lines also require pre-departure testing, regardless of vaccination status.
Some lines, including Royal Caribbean, require all passengers 2 and older to be masked in indoor public areas, except while actively eating and drinking.
Before coronavirus variants brought a rise in breakthrough cases among the vaccinated, some lines did not require vaccinated passengers to wear masks in areas reserved for vaccinated guests.