CDC issues new COVID safety recommendations for cruise ships

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new set of recommendations for the cruise industry on Wednesday, just days after the COVID-19 program for cruise ships ended.

Although much of the CDC’s new guidance is optional, the government agency still strongly recommends pre-boarding coronavirus testing within a day of boarding. As a result, cruise lines such as Azamara and Norwegian have announced that they will stop pre-boarding testing in the near future unless destinations require it on each itinerary.

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The CDC still recommends that all eligible travelers be up to date with their vaccination status, while those with a previous medical condition should speak to their health care provider before booking a cruise, even if they are fully vaccinated.

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

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 contact their cruise lines about testing and vaccination protocols before booking a vacation.

Additionally, the CDC has provided guidance on when a vessel should consider suspending operations. Using a new measure of “attack rate”, health officials will be able to identify the severity of an outbreak.

The cruise line should then consider suspending operations in the event of sustained transmission, severe cases causing at least two deaths, or an increasing number of cases that could overwhelm the medical center on board.

The full list of updated CDC protocols and guidelines is available on the agency’s website.


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