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Travelers on cruise ships are no longer being warned about potential health hazards by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On Wednesday, the organization that issues world travel health advisories based on possible health concerns withdrew cruise ships from its cautions list. This is yet another step forward for an industry trying to return to pre-pandemic norms and practices. Passengers must still be vaccinated and tested negative for infectious diseases before they can board a ship.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) originally advised Americans to avoid cruise ships in 2020, at the peak of the health crisis. According to the FDA, close quarters on ships might enable COVID-19 to spread quickly, increasing the risk of infection for both passengers and crew. Last year, even as COVID-19 Omicron form spread across the United States, the CDC advised citizens to steer clear of cruises.
There have been significant changes since the outbreak began. However, it would be wrong to detain the cruise industry to the same guidelines we did two years ago or dismiss all they have achieved in terms of inbuilt health and safety measures since then. However, dropping the risk assessment and implying that people are less at risk of contracting COVID while on a cruise ship is ludicrous.
In January, outbreaks of COVID were reported onboard all 92 cruise ships transporting passengers in U.S. territorial waters. By permitting its Conditional Sail Order to expire in January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave cruise lines the option of following or not following its recommendations. Many cruise lines, notably Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Carnival Cruise Line, relaxed their masking and immunization rules in the following weeks. However, other ships, including all three of these lines, continue to demand pre-travel testing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues alerts based on the number and trend of new cases to alert travelers as well as other users to health concerns around the world. Since cruise lines have been prohibited from operating from United States waters for more than a year, beginning in March 2020, cruise ship warnings have been included. In a statement issued on Wednesday, cruise ship operators expressed their appreciation for the announcement, which came when many people were contemplating their summer vacation plans.
“On Wednesday, the organization that issues world travel health advisories based on possible health concerns withdrew cruise ships from its cautions list. While there is always a potential of COVID-19 transmission while on a cruise ship, passengers will make their individual threat assessment when choosing to go on a cruise ship, as they do in plenty of other travel circumstances,” the agency stated in a statement. The CDC hopes that its COVID-19 plan for cruise ships will help the cruise industry work more safely and healthily for the crew, passengers, and the surrounding communities.
When traveling by ship, people have to ensure they remain up-to-date on all of their COVID-19 immunizations, according to the CDC, as well as follow any other regulations or recommendations from their ship. The U.S. Coast Guard initially implemented the restriction on cruises departing from the United States in March 2020 after the CDC issued a warning about the COVID-19 dangers of ship travel.
Since June 2021, cruises have been rated level 4 or extreme danger at various points. Since last year, the rating of risks related to the COVID 19 pandemic has progressively decreased from extremely high-to-high and moderate risks.
The CDC’s essential safety health measures, including vaccination mandates for crew and passengers and pre-cruise COVID testing, were unanimously adopted by the cruise industry. New air-filtration systems have also been installed on ships.
No matter whatever Cruise Company or location, the current rule is that almost everyone on board and nearly all guests must be completely immunized before setting sail from the United States. In addition, the needs of children can differ greatly. For such coming summer period in Alaska, Royal Caribbean requires that all passengers aged 12 and up be completely vaccinated. In contrast, Holland America Line requires that all passengers aged 5 and up be fully vaccinated. Ships departing the United States must undergo pre-and mid-cruise testing as well.
“Recognizing the important public health policies in place on cruise ships and beginning to create a level playing field, between the cruise and uniformly located venues on land, for the first time since March 2020,” said the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), that matters as members most of the world’s largest and best-known cruise lines. Several cruise lines applauded the CDC’s actions as well. The CDC has taken a major step forward in removing its health warning for cruise travel, said the president of America Holland Line, Mr. Gus Antorcha.
Tom McAlpin, the CEO of Virgin Voyages, remarked, “Although we believe this was long overdue, we appreciate the hard effort this industry has put in to guarantee that we are offering the safest mode of transportation.” The move by the CDC comes amid when COVID-19 cases are still being reported from cruise ships. Thirty-eight ships currently operating in the United States are labeled as level “orange,” suggesting that the government is investigating an outbreak as of March 29, following its color scheme consumer reporting system. The CDC requires that at least 0.3 percent of all passengers and crew members test positive for the disease to trigger an inquiry. During the first three months, Virgin Voyages saw a 152 percent rise in cruise reservations.
While returning to San Francisco from that Panama Canal voyage aboard the Ruby Princess earlier this week, numerous cases of COVID-19 were detected. According to the most recent CDC chart, the ship, having made headlines because of a huge outbreak afloat at the beginning of the epidemic, is now categorized as orange. However, it is important for travelers to take precautions before embarking on a cruise; infectious disease expert and chief infectious diseases officer at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Thomas Russom says AFAR in an email interview.
If Omicron is present, “there is a reasonable chance somebody on the cruise liner is infected and might be spread to you,” says Russo. A booster shot should be considered for everybody who qualifies, even if it is their second booster shot. According to Russo, “If you are immunized and bolstered and you are not immunocompromised, I believe that you are in really good health and the risk of you developing a significant infection is a fairly low amount.” However, once you become unwell and need to be isolated, your cruise vacation could be ruined, which you paid big money. “Keep in mind.”