Dec 30, 2021 - Health

CDC: Avoid cruise ships regardless of COVID vaccination status

MSC Seashore arrived to PortMiami to begin Caribbean itineraries, including trips to private island Ocean Cay, in November 2021.
Photo: Richard Tribou/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The CDC said Thursday that passengers should "avoid cruise ships, regardless of vaccination status," citing an increased threat of COVID-19.

Driving the news: The CDC raised its travel health notice to the highest level on Thursday, saying "COVID-19 spreads easily between people in close quarters on board ships," adding that the chance of getting the virus onboard is "very high."

  • The CDC added that individuals who travel on a cruise ship should be fully vaccinated and get tested one to three days before their trip and three to five days after it, regardless of vaccination status or symptoms.

The big picture: The health notice comes as a surge of COVID-19 cases, likely driven by the Omicron variant, batters the cruise industry.

  • As of Thursday, the CDC said it was actively investigating or observing 91 cruise ships with COVID-19 outbreaks on board.
  • An additional three ships are being monitored due to reported coronavirus infections, according to the CDC's update.

What they're saying: "The decision by the CDC to raise the travel level for cruise is particularly perplexing considering that cases identified on cruise ships consistently make up a very slim minority of the total population onboard," the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said in a statement.

  • "While we are disappointed and disagree with the decision to single out the cruise industry ... CLIA and our ocean-going cruise line members remain committed to working collaboratively with the CDC in the interest of public health and safety."

Go deeper: Omicron brings calls to pause cruise ships again

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