CDC no longer reports COVID cases on cruise ships

The agency has halted its program for tracking COVID cases and outbreaks on cruise ships.

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Jhe US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) this week ended a program that closely monitored COVID-19 cases on cruise ships and released the results online.

For months, the CDC had maintained a color-coded chart, which listed COVID cases ship-by-ship as well as any outbreaks warranting investigation. But the landing page because this table now shows that the program has ended, as of July 18.

The agency also released new, more discreet information. cruise ship guidance this leaves it up to each cruise line to develop protocols for the health and safety of passengers and crew.

So what does the CDC’s latest approach to cruising mean for travelers? Well, potential passengers will need to carefully read the rules provided by each cruise line to know exactly what they may or may not need in regards to things like pre-cruise testing, vaccination mandates, wearing mask and other mitigation measures.

Evolving pandemic protocols for cruising

At the start of the pandemic, the CDC completely banned cruising in the United States due to health and safety concerns, a policy that lasted from March 2020 to June 2021. The restart of cruising last summer s comes with numerous requirements regarding passenger and crew vaccinations, testing, mask to wear and how to handle quarantine if someone on board becomes ill. These were later changed from “requirements” to “strong recommendations” by the agency.

Rolling back even further this week, CDC officials say they are confident cruise line programs are now up to the task.

“Over the past two years, the CDC has worked closely with the cruise industry, state, territorial and local health authorities, as well as federal and port partners to provide a safer and healthier environment for cruise passengers and to the crew,” the agency said in a statement. sent to AFAR. “The CDC has determined that the cruise industry has access to the necessary tools (for example, cruise-specific recommendations and guidance, vaccinations, testing instruments, treatment modalities, and non-pharmaceutical interventions) to prevent and mitigate COVID-19 at edge.”

Several cruise lines contacted by AFAR said they were still reviewing the latest CDC policy and deciding how to respond.

“As always, our top priority is the safety and security of our guests, crew and the communities we visit, and that will be a priority for whatever we decide to move forward,” said a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean.

According to Michelle Fee, CEO of Home Travel Advisor Network Cruise planners, the move “was long overdue”. She said this latest CDC development “gives us great hope that the future of cruising is bright and will be back on track sooner rather than later.”

How Cruise Lines Are Updating Their Regulations

Inspired by the CDC’s decision in June to drop the COVID-19 testing requirement for inbound international air travelers, several cruise lines have dropped their own pre-cruise testing requirements — when sailing to destinations where this is not required by the local government. Among the lines making the switch are Viking, Virgin Voyages and the small ship line Azamara.

“The easing of our testing policy marks a step in the right direction towards a return to normalcy for the travel and cruise industry,” said Carol Cabezas, president of Azamara. “Cruising is one of the safest ways to travel, and our existing onboard health and safety protocols will ensure peace of mind for our guests and crew as we move forward.” Azamara again requires proof of vaccination to sail.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, is dropping its pre-cruise testing requirement for most sailings starting August 1.

For now, most cruise lines still require those aged 12 and over to be vaccinated, and some require all passengers to be vaccinated. Disney Cruise Line is one of the few companies that requires vaccinations for all passengers age 5 and older.

Cruise lines are unlikely to completely eliminate vaccine requirements anytime soon, as the CDC continues to recommend that cruise passengers get vaccinated, although some cruise lines may increase the number of unvaccinated passengers they allow to carry. edge.

Regarding the CDC’s current recommendations for cruising, as mentioned above, the agency continues to advise passengers to get vaccinated.

“While cruising poses some risk of transmission of COVID-19, travelers can make their own risk assessment when choosing to cruise, much like they do in other settings,” explains the agency. “The CDC continues to recommend that cruise passengers stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines and get tested for COVID-19 before and after their trip, and after any known exposure to someone with COVID-19.”

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