CDC’s Travel Advisory Decision Dismays Cruise Industry

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The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced new optional guidance for the cruise industry on Wednesday, says an article published in Travelpulse.

The Optional Program

According to the CDC’s official website, cruise lines have until February 18 to opt into or out of the optional program, which replaced the Conditional Sailing Order that expired on January 15.

The CDC’s optional coronavirus program adds a new “vaccination status” tier that gives cruise lines offering voyages with fully vaccinated crew members and passengers new options.

It includes “highly Vaccinated,” “not highly vaccinated” and “vaccination standard of excellence” levels.

New Standards

To achieve the newest standard of excellence tier, cruise ships must have at least 95 percent of passengers and crew able to show proof of a full COVID vaccination and any eligible booster shots. 

Passengers who come in close contact with people who test positive for coronavirus must quarantine until at least five days after their last exposure instead of the previously mandated 10 days.

While the latest changes are optional, cruise lines must share the vaccination status of each ship with the CDC, which will be posted on the agency’s website alongside each vessel’s color status.

Cruise Lines International Association

“Regrettably, upon initial review, the latest CDC guidance appears out of step with the actual public health conditions on cruise ships and unnecessary in light of societal trends away from more restrictive measures,” the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said.

“We are confounded by the CDC’s imposition of even more complex and unwarranted measures which ignore empirical evidence that the industry’s protocols have provided a greater level of COVID mitigation than most any other setting,” the statement continued. “The CDC’s guidance for multitiered cruises is counterproductive to consumers, creating market confusion between the various tiers, and potentially unworkable in practice.”

No need pre-approval

Other changes from the Conditional Sail Order to the new optional program include cruise lines no longer needing the pre-approval from the CDC for diagnostic and screening tests the agency scrapping the need for negative air pressure in quarantine cabins and more.

Government officials said they would reevaluate the guidance based on public health conditions and available scientific evidence by March 18 and update as needed.

At the end of December, the CDC elevated its travel warning for cruise ships from Level 3 to Level 4, warning passengers to avoid traveling by cruise ship regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status.

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Source: Travelpulse

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