Health officials in the United States have eased safety restrictions of cruise travel for vaccinated passengers.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday lowered the warning level for cruises from Level 4, which recommends avoiding all travel, to Level 3, which encourages travelers to get fully vaccinated before traveling.
The agency still advises that all unvaccinated travelers avoid travel on cruise ships.
“Since the virus spreads more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships, the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is high. It is especially important that people who are not fully vaccinated with an increased risk of severe illness avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises," the CDC said in the updated advisory.
The advisory also stated that cruise passengers should get tested one to three days before their trip, as well as three to five days after. People who are not fully vaccinated should also self-quarantine for seven days after travel, even if they test negative. Those who do not get tested should self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
The CDC's lowered warning level comes as the cruise industry prepares to restart in the United States. The first sailing from the U.S. is scheduled to depart on June 26 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Edge.
Royal Caribbean International’s new Odyssey of the Seas was to set sail from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on July 3 but is now postponed to July 31 after eight crew members tested positive for COVID-19.
Late last week, two passengers sailing onboard Celebrity Millennium had tested positive for COVID-19. Both were only revealed to have tested positive after being tested during one of the required end-of-cruise testing rounds that Celebrity conducts at the late stages of each sailing.
Celebrity required all guests on Millennium to show proof of vaccination as well as a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before sailing from its homeport St. Maarten this past Saturday.
Celebrity said in a statement that the positive tests “demonstrate that our rigorous health and safety protocols work to protect our crew, guests, and the communities we visit.”