As the new Omicron variant surges across the globe, cruises have become virus hotspots, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently investigating outbreaks on more than 90 ships. (The CDC gets involved when more than 0.10 percent of passengers on a ship test positive for COVID-19.)
With this new increase in COVID cases, the CDC announced on December 30 that it was raising the warning level for cruises to Level 4, the agency’s highest level.
“Avoid cruise travel, regardless of vaccination status,” the CDC warned. “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.”
Why Is the CDC Advising Against Cruising?
The nature of cruising (large crowds, confined spaces) allows viruses to spread quickly, and the CDC points out that “Even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.” The agency’s advisory warns, “The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily between people in close quarters onboard ships, and the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high, even if you are fully vaccinated and have received a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose.”
What Should I Do If I’m Going to Cruise Regardless of the Cdc’s Recommendation?
If you are still planning on taking a cruise, the CDC recommends travelers take the following precautions against COVID:
- Make sure you are fully vaccinated (including a booster shot if you’re eligible) before traveling
- All travelers should get tested 1-3 days before your trip and 3-5 days after you return home (regardless of vaccination status or symptoms)
- Unvaccinated travelers should self-quarantine for five days after cruise travel
- Self-monitor for COVID symptoms for 14 days after travel
- Wear a mask and keep six feet of space from other passengers in shared spaces during the cruise
- Wash your hands frequently aboard the cruise
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
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