On Thursday, Dec. 30, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised people to avoid cruise ship traveling “regardless of vaccination status”.
The CDC issued a warning after a recent spike in the number of positive Covid cases onboard ships as the highly contagious Omicron variant swept the globe.
CDC is examining or monitoring dozens of ships that the Covid outbreak has impacted.
“It is especially important that travelers who are at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide, regardless of vaccination status,” the agency stated according to CNBC.
Between Dec. 15 and Dec. 29, cruise ships operating in U.S. waters reported roughly 5,000 Covid cases to the CDC. It is a significant increase from the 162 cases reported in the first two weeks of the month.
The CDC’s advice represent a new hardship for an industry already reeling from the pandemic’s first year. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Carnival all saw their stock prices drop due to the news.
The Cruise Lines International Association’s Brian Salerno expressed disappointment with the CDC’s decision.
“We’re obviously disappointed at the CDC’s decision to raise the travel level for cruise today—especially given the overwhelming level of effectiveness of cruise protocols that are resulting in significantly lower level of cases on cruise as compared to land,” said Salerno, senior VP, Maritime Policy.
A spokeswoman for the industry group Anne Madison said regarding Covid cases identified on the cruise ships, “The majority of those cases are asymptomatic or mild in nature, posing little to no burden on medical resources onboard or onshore.”
According to the CDC, Covid could easily transmit between persons on a ship near each other. Even for individuals who were vaccinated and received a booster dose, the risk of catching the virus on board was very high.
The CDC recommends that anybody planning on taking a cruise get vaccinated and, if necessary, obtain a booster injection before leaving. People should wear masks in public places as well. Passengers who have not received all of their vaccines should self-isolate for five days after their trip.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday, Dec. 29, Omicron is driving a significant spike in Covid cases.