Just 15 days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lowered its advisory for cruise ships to Level 2: Moderate, the governmental agency eliminated its risk advisory for cruise ship travel altogether. The CDC cruise travel notice, which had been at its highest possible level just two months ago, has been in place for two years.
Instead of a notice recommending travelers avoid cruise ships, the CDC now recommends that cruisers stay up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccines. It also recommends that immunocompromised individuals talk to their healthcare providers before booking. Additionally, the CDC recommends that cruisers get a COVID-19 viral test before their cruise, something that is required by all the major cruise lines.
The agency is maintaining its color-coded classification system, which indicates the number of COVID-19 cases reported onboard each ship, whether an investigation is needed or additional health measures are being taken.
“This is great news. The fact that they removed the warning is a very positive step for our industry,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International during a President’s Panel at the Cruise360 trade show.
“We’ve been on a very long journey with the CDC,” he said, adding the two sides learned to work collaboratively and respect each other’s concerns, building trust in the process.
Now when a consumer wants to find out about COVID-19 on cruise ships, they can go to the CDC’s websites and get the facts without being scared away by a warning.
“You’re free to cruise,” Bayley said.
Other cruise line executives also welcomed the news.
“The CDC’s removal of its health notice related to cruise travel is an important step forward in recognizing the work we have done to protect our guests,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line. "At Holland America Line, we continue to operate vaccinated cruises and have created a safe and healthy environment for our guests, our teams, and the communities we serve, helping to ensure cruising is among the safest forms of socializing and travel.”
“We’re absolutely thrilled to see that the CDC recognizes that it’s time to remove the Travel Health Notice website,” said Tom McAlpin, CEO of Virgin Voyages. “While we feel this was a long time coming, we recognize this move as a demonstration of all of the hard work this industry has done to ensure that we’re offering the safest way to travel. It’s refreshing to see them meet us where we’re at, and clearly where our customers are at considering the major uptick in demand we’ve seen.”