<p>Passengers disembark a cruise ship</p>

Passengers disembark a cruise ship

Cruise ships unsafe as Omicron surges, says CDC

‘Avoid cruise travel, regardless of vaccination status’ says update

Lucy Thackray
Friday 31 December 2021 12:02

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised travellers not to board cruise ships - whether they have been vaccinated or not.

In a change to its guidance on Thursday, CDC officials moved cruise ship travel to its highest-risk list, Level 4, saying: “Avoid cruise travel, regardless of vaccination status.”

“Since the identification of the Omicron variant, there has been an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases among cruise passengers and crew reported to CDC. Additionally, there has been an increase in the number of cruise ships meeting the Covid-19 case threshold for CDC investigation.”

This is a blow for the cruise industry, which only began voyages in July after over a year of shutdown and major financial losses.

“It is especially important that travelers who are at an increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19 avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide, regardless of vaccination status,” the CDC statement continues.

“If you travel on a cruise ship, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel and get a Covid-19 vaccine booster dose if you are eligible.”

The CDC’s travel advice isn’t enforced, but meant as guidance for US-based holidaymakers - however, this backwards step for cruising is likely to be taken seriously by the public.

Most cruise lines that are operating insist on full vaccination for all passengers over 12, as well as mask-wearing in all public and shared areas onboard.

However, several recent high-profile outbreaks have raised concerns about the possibilities of transmission on cruise liners.

On 18 December, 48 passengers tested positive on the Royal Caribbean ship Symphony of the Seas when it docked in Miami after a Caribbean cruise.

This was followed by an outbreak on the operator’s Odyssey of the Seas ship, with 55 passengers onboard testing positive mid-voyage.

The Odssey was barred from docking at the islands of Aruba and Curacao due to the high number of positive cases aboard.

Meanwhile in August, 27 people - 26 of them crew - tested positive for Covid aboard a Carnival cruise ship docked in Belize.

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