August 23, 2021 — People at a high risk of serious illness — such as the elderly, pregnant women, and those with underlying health conditions — should avoid cruise ships even if they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.
“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 CDC said. “People with weakened immune systems, including people who take medicines that suppress their immune systems, may not be protected even if fully vaccinated.”
In its updated cruise ship guidance, the CDC said people who are not fully vaccinated should avoid any travel on cruise ships worldwide, including river cruises. Those who do take cruises should always wear a mask in shared spaces and practice social distancing.
“The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily between people in close quarters aboard ships, and the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is high. Outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported on cruise ships,” the CDC said.
Further recommendations advise that passengers should get tested one-to-three days before their trip and three-to-five days after the cruise ends, regardless of vaccination status. Those who are not fully vaccinated should quarantine seven days after their cruise ends.
If passengers who are not fully vaccinated don’t get tested after the cruise, they should quarantine 10 days, the CDC said.
The cruise industry shut down in early 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic began and several outbreaks occurred aboard ships. U.S. cruises resumed on a gradual basis in late June 2021 under various testing and vaccination restrictions imposed by the cruise lines.
But outbreaks keep happening. Last week, 27 people tested positive for coronavirus on Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Vista, USA Today reported. Twenty-six of them were crew members.
To help consumers, the CDC has developed a color-coded system that provides information about the COVID-19 status of a ship operating in U.S. waters.
The CDC publishes a chart that assigns each ship a color – green, orange, yellow, red, or gray. The colors are updated several times weekly and are based on information obtained over the previous seven-day period, the CDC says.