(CMR) After two years of issuing warnings to travelers about the high risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention lifted its risk advisory for cruise ship travel on Wednesday.
The advisory removal comes three months after the CDC increased its travel warnings for cruises to Level 4 — the highest level — following investigations of ships that had COVID outbreaks.
While the CDC has lifted its travel health notice, officials said it's up to the passengers to determine their own health risks before going onboard a cruise ship.
“While cruising will always pose some risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers will make their own risk assessment when choosing to travel on a cruise ship, much like they do in all other travel settings,” the agency said in a statement.
The agency will continue to provide guidance to the cruise ship industry for cruise lines to operate in a way that will provide “safer and healthier” environments for crews, passengers, and communities.
The Cruise Lines International Association has welcomed the decision by the CDC to remove the cruise warning. The association said:
“Today's decision by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to altogether remove the Travel Health Notice for cruising recognizes the effective public health measures in place on cruise ships and begins to level the playing field, between cruise and similarly situated venues on land, for the first time since March 2020.
From the onset of the pandemic, CLIA's cruise line members have prioritized the health and safety of their guests, crew, and the communities they visit and are sailing today with health measures in place that are unmatched by virtually any other commercial setting.”
The CDC has, however, advised travelers to make sure they are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines before taking a cruise.
Travelers are urged to check their cruise ship's COVID case levels and vaccination requirements online before traveling, the agency says.