The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Aug. 20 that travelers at high risk of complications from COVID-19 should avoid cruise ships, even if fully vaccinated.
According to the CDC’s updated guidance on cruise ship travelers, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, the pathogen that causes the disease COVID-19, spreads easily between people in close quarters on ships, and the chance of catching the illness on cruise ships is high.
The agency recommends that people who are at increased risk of severe illness should avoid traveling on cruises, regardless of vaccination status, as should those who aren’t fully vaccinated.
“Older adults and people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are more likely to get severely ill if they get COVID-19,” the agency said in the guidelines. “People with weakened immune systems, including people who take medicines that suppress their immune systems, may not be protected even if fully vaccinated.”
People who do decide to go on cruises should be tested one to three days before their trip and again three to five days after returning, irrespective of vaccination status, the CDC said.
Those who are not fully vaccinated should also self-quarantine for a week after cruise travel, even if they test negative, while those who don’t get tested should isolate for 10 days, the agency said.
While aboard cruise ships, people should wear masks in common areas, practice social distancing, wash and sanitize hands frequently, and avoid contact with anyone who is sick, the CDC added.
The CDC’s updated guidance comes as the United States faces a surge in CCP virus infections, driven by the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. As of Aug. 20, the country has reported 987,417 new cases and 6,037 virus-related deaths in the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Outbreaks have been reported on cruise ships in recent months even as cruise lines have imposed various testing and vaccination requirements.
Four vaccinated adults and two unvaccinated children tested positive for COVID-19 on a Royal Caribbean ship in July, a spokesperson confirmed to USA Today. The operator’s COVID-19 protocols include requiring passengers over 16 years of age to be fully vaccinated and all passengers to test negative for the virus prior to boarding.
The Belize Tourism Board announced on Aug. 13 that a Carnival Cruise Line ship made a port call in Belize City, with 27 people on board—including 26 crew members—testing positive for the virus.
Cruise lines have pressed ahead with a return to sailing this summer, more than a year after outbreaks on several ships brought the industry to a standstill.