CDC Releases New Cruise Ship COVID-Safety Recommendations

CDC Releases New Cruise Ship COVID-Safety Recommendations

Family on cruise ship. (photo via Steve Mason / Photodisc)

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new set of recommendations for the cruise industry on Wednesday, just days after ending the COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships.

While much of the new CDC guidance is optional, the government agency still strongly recommends pre-embarkation coronavirus testing within one day of embarkation. As a result, cruise lines such as Azamara and Norwegian announced they would stop pre-embarkation testing in the near future, unless mandated by destinations on each itinerary.

The CDC still recommends that all eligible travelers should be up to date with their vaccination status, while those with a prior medical condition should talk to their healthcare provider before booking a cruise, even if fully vaccinated.

After previously classifying ships based on their vaccination rates, the agency now suggests that cruise lines operate their ships “with at least 90 percent passengers and 95 percent crew who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines.”

Cruise lines must also submit data to the CDC on coronavirus cases, either through a daily form or as each case is confirmed. The agency recommends travelers should contact their cruise lines about testing and vaccination protocols before booking a vacation.

In addition, the CDC provided guidelines for when a ship should consider suspending operations. By using a new “attack rate” measurement, health officials will be able to identify the severity of an outbreak.

The cruise line should then consider suspending operations if there is sustained transmission, severe cases that cause at least two deaths or a rising number of cases that could overwhelm the onboard medical center.

The CDC’s full list of updated protocols and guidelines can be found on the agency’s website.

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