The CDC has cautioned travelers against going on cruise ships regardless of their vaccination statuses. The federal health agency warned that the COVID-19 omicron variant spreads more on cruise trips and that over 90 cruise ships are currently being monitored for outbreaks.
The CDC stated that even if people have received booster shots, they should avoid cruise trips until they are declared safe for everyone.
“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,” the CDC said in its alert.
The CDC demonstrated knowledge that some people will still push ahead with traveling on cruise ships despite the warning. Such people are warned to get fully vaccinated and to get booster shots where possible while doing everything in their power to protect themselves against exposure.
“Avoid cruise travel, regardless of vaccination status. 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 said. “Getting vaccinated is still the best way to protect yourself from severe disease, slow the spread of COVID-19, and reduce the number of new variants.”
But the Cruise Lines International Association kicked against the recommendation, saying the federal health agency has singled them out for discrimination. The association said they adhere to stricter health protocols than any other travel sector in the country and that they have lesser infection cases than imagined.
“We don’t like to see even one case, but our experience is a fraction of the comparable statistics of virtually any other comparable location or industry,” said Richard Fain, CEO of Royal Caribbean Group. “Few businesses are subject to such intense scrutiny, regulation, and disclosure requirements by so many authorities.”
Several cruise lines argue that they have the best health and safety protocols in place to protect against COVID-19 and that the majority of travelers who got infected are asymptomatic or showing mild symptoms. The cruise companies said this category of travelers poses little to no burdens on medical resources within the ships or onshore.
In March 2020, the CDC stopped all cruise activities for 15 months and ships were allowed to sail again under stricter conditions in June 2021. The agency warned that full vaccination or booster shots do not stop anyone from getting infected with coronavirus on cruise trips. After the CDC issued the latest alert, the share prices for Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings dropped sharply.