CNBC – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday advised people against going on cruises regardless of their vaccination status after a recent surge in positive Covid cases onboard ships as the highly contagious omicron variant sweeps the world.
The CDC increased its travel warning for cruises to the highest level as the agency is investigating or observing dozens of ships that have had Covid outbreaks.
Cruise ships operating in U.S. waters reported about 5,000 Covid cases to the CDC between Dec. 15 – 29, a major spike compared with the first two weeks of the month when 162 cases were reported.
“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 said.
The CDC guidance is a new blow for an industry that was devastated during the first year of the pandemic. The stocks of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Carnival fell on the news.
The CDC warned that Covid transmits easily between people in close quarters on ships, and the chance of catching the virus on a cruise is very high even for people who are vaccinated and have received a booster dose.
The CDC advised people who decide to go on a cruise to get vaccinated before their trip and receive a booster dose if eligible. Facemasks should also be worn in shared spaces, and passengers who are not fully vaccinated should self-quarantine for five days after travel, according to the agency.
The CDC also said people who go on a cruise should get tested one to three days before departing, and three to five days after their trip, regardless of vaccination status or symptoms.
However, many Americans shopping for at-home tests have found shelves in many pharmacies empty amid a nationwide shortage, and lines at clinics are sometimes hourslong.
Brian Salerno with the Cruise Lines International Association said the trade group was frustrated by the CDC’s decision.
“We’re obviously disappointed at the CDC’s decision … ” Read more.