The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is again lowering the advisory for cruise ship travel.
On Monday, the CDC dropped its cruise ship warning from Level 3: High to Level 2: Moderate, the second major change this year after last month’s lowering from Level 4: Very High to Level 3.
According to the CDC, the change “represents the status of the COVID-19 pandemic at this time,” an acknowledgment of just how far the health situation has come since the CDC effectively shut down the entire industry for most of 2020.
The new warning advises travelers to make sure they are up to date with vaccination before cruise ship travel and to still avoid cruise travel if they are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and if they are not up to date with vaccines.
“The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily between people in close quarters onboard ships, and the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ship sis moderate, even if you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines,” the warning reads.
The CDC is still recommending passengers get a COVID-19 test as close to time of departure as possible and to wear a face mask when indoors or in crowded outdoor settings.
Even with the CDC lowering its warning, and allowing its Conditional Sail Order (CSO) to expire in January, cruise ships operating in the U.S. have all continued to voluntarily participate in the program, which tracks COVID-19 levels onboard.
A total of 112 cruise ships continue to operate under the CSO, and of those, 108 are considered “highly vaccinated ships,” meaning they are sailing with at least 95% of travelers who are fully vaccinated. Most of those 112 ships (56) have no reported cases of COVID-19 onboard, and just 20 have reported enough cases to meet the threshold of CDC investigation. Zero ships have reported numbers at or above the threshold for CDC investigation, which is an infection in more than 0.3% of total passengers or crewmembers.