Travel | January 11, 2022 7:19 pm

The CDC Is Now Urging Even Vaccinated Travelers to Avoid Cruise Ships

Of the 101 cruise ships operating or seeking to operate in U.S. waters, 92 have reported cases of COVID onboard

The CDC Is Now Urging Even Vaccinated Travelers to Avoid Cruise Ships

There’s certainly a time and a place to go on a cruise (though I can’t think of an example of either off the top of my head), but according to the CDC, now isn’t it … even if you are vaccinated.

Last Thursday, the CDC announced that the Travel Health Notice level associated with cruise ships had been updated from Level 3 to Level 4 — the highest level — in response to the increase in cases onboard cruise ships linked to the Omicron variant.

“The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily between people in close quarters onboard ships, and the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high, even if you are fully vaccinated and have received a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose,” the update reads.

This should come as no surprise. Earlier this week, Newsweek reported that of the 101 cruise ships operating in (or seeking to operate in) U.S. waters, 92 have reported cases of COVID onboard. The link between COVID and cruises has been a major plotline since the early days of the pandemic, with the very first coronavirus outbreak outside of Wuhan province actually happening aboard a cruise ship — Carnival’s Diamond Princess.

Of course, some might argue that there are worse places to be quarantined, but when you remove all the bells and whistles typically associated with a cruise ship, what you’re left with is a (potentially windowless) 150- to 185-square-foot room with room service … if you’re lucky. Per a new report from The Washington Post, being quarantined on a cruise these days means you’re likely to enjoy meals comprised of items including — but not limited to — white rice, hard boiled eggs and rotting fruit.

Fortunately, it appears that several cruise lines — Royal Caribbean and Norwegian chief among them — are proactively canceling sailings in response to the most recent bout of outbreaks. Stories of ships being denied entry to ports worldwide, and ultimately stuck at sea, have unsurprisingly left guests with some pre-departure jitters, too. Consequently, many of them have opted to cancel themselves.

“We booked the cruise last March and assumed that things would be getting back to normal… by mid-December, I was mentally prepared for a change of plans,” Holly Bromley, a consulting arborist who canceled her booking on Norwegian Epic, told Reuters.

This all comes on the heels of the CDC’s recent investigation into the risks of COVID on cruises, which Josh Michaud, infectious disease epidemiologist and associate director for the Global Health Kaiser Family Foundation, deemed “astonishing.”

If anyone needs me, I’ll be over here not going on a cruise for the 31st consecutive year of my life.