By Marnie Hunter, CNN
Cruise travel no longer carries a CDC Covid-19 risk warning.
While this decision does not mean there is no risk of transmission of Covid-19 on cruises, “travellers will make their own risk assessment when choosing to travel on a cruise ship, much like they do in all other travel contexts,” the US hubs. for disease control and prevention said in a statement.
The agency has removed popular means of travel from its list of travel health notices, no doubt a relief for an industry that has instituted some of the strictest Covid-19 precautions in the travel industry. .
Industry group Cruise Lines International Association said the decision “recognizes the effective public health measures in place on cruise ships and begins to level the playing field, between cruises and similarly located land locations, for the first time since March 2020”.
CLIA said its cruise line members “are sailing today with health measures in place that are unmatched by virtually any other business executive.”
The CDC is still advising travelers to be up to date on their Covid-19 vaccinations before cruise travel.
It also advises travelers to consult their doctor about additional precautions if they are immunocompromised or at higher risk of serious illness.
The CDC status of cruise travel has come a long way in the past few months. Three months ago, on December 30, it was moved to the agency’s highest-risk Level 4 travel advisory category, as the Omicron variant led to an increase in cases including a higher number of breakthroughs of infections.
Cruise travel fell to Level 3, or “high” risk, in February, then to Level 2, “moderate” risk, where it was listed until it disappeared from notices altogether on Wednesday.
Cruise Ship Precautions
Vaccination and testing requirements have been widespread on cruises since large ships resumed sailing from US ports in June 2021.
CDC rules under a conditional boating order that expired in January required 95% of passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated to sail under most circumstances, and some cruise lines have required vaccination to all passengers and crew.
After the CDC’s extended conditional navigation order expired in January, the agency moved to a voluntary membership program for foreign-flagged cruise ships operating in U.S. waters.
The agency said Wednesday it would continue to provide advice to the cruise industry through the program.
Travelers are advised to check their cruise ship’s color code and vaccination status classification online before travelling. The CDC’s dashboard tracks reported Covid-19 cases for each ship in the program, whether a ship has pulled out, and other Covid-related information.
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Top image: A cruise ship waits for people to board before leaving PortMiami on Dec. 31, 2021, in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)