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CDC Ends COVID-19 Advisory Warning for Cruise Ships

The cruise industry was severely disrupted by health advisories and restrictions implemented during the pandemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rescinded the warning for cruise ships that went into effect at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of March 30, the agency will let passengers determine if the national COVID-19 rate is too high to book a cruise.

The CDC still “requires face masks to be worn by all travelers while on public transportation including all passengers on board and all personnel operating maritime conveyances traveling into, within, or out of the United States”

Travelers must also wear masks inside transportation hubs, such as seaports or ferry terminals. 

The agency also recommended that cruise lines operating ships in American waters take part in the CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships.

Cruise ships are advised to test for COVID-19 onboard and onshore, to offer onboard isolation, quarantine, and physical distancing, to supply personal protective equipment for crew and passengers, and to screen embarking or disembarking crew and non-crew.

“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,” CDC spokesman Dave Daigle told ABC News via email.

Given “the current state of the pandemic and decreases in COVID-19 cases onboard cruise ships over the past several weeks,” Daigle said the CDC felt it was appropriate to end the warning.

“Cruise-ship operators have complained since the start of the pandemic that their industry has been singled out for a shutdown and then tighter COVID-19 restrictions than others, including airlines,” reports the Associated Press. “Operators are required to tell the CDC about virus cases on board ships. The agency has a colored-coded system to classify ships based on the percentage of passengers who test positive. The CDC said that system remains in place.

The Cruise Lines International Association commended the CDC for removing the travel health notice. The world’s largest cruise industry trade association said the decision “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.”

Prior to the pandemic, cruises were one of the fastest-growing sectors of the tourism industry with demand increasing by over 20% in the last five years. 

The three biggest cruise lines, Carnival Corporation & PLC, Royal Caribbean Group, and Norwegian Cruise Line, generated combined revenues of $34.2 billion in 2018,” notes Company Debt.

Following the global spread of COVID-19, the three operators reported a year-on-year decrease in revenue by over 70%.

Financial reports from Carnival Cruises indicate the brand lost $650 million every month its ships were docked. The company ultimately sold off 6 ships from its fleet.

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