Travel industry reports increase in bookings as CDC issues new guidelines for cruise ships, passengers


CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance for cruises. The agency now says anyone at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should not go on a cruise even if they’re fully vaccinated.

That group includes people with underlying medical conditions, pregnant women, recently pregnant women, and the elderly.

While ships have not set sail in Charleston for roughly 18 months those choosing to cruise for vacations are heading down to Florida instead of the Lowcountry.

For Eric Amaral, a Mount Pleasant resident preparing to head out for his first cruise since the pandemic, he says he’s frustrated that the rules ahead of getting on board are continually changing.  

Booking this cruise was supposed to be a sigh of relief of getting back to normal things. 

Eric Amaral, Cruise Ship Passenger

Amaral says for his trip, they must have proof of a negative COVID test 3 days prior to boarding. If you’re fully vaccinated he says there will be more freedom to do certain things such as go on the mainlands. However, if you’re not fully vaccinated you need to have proof of travelers’ insurance and will have to stay in a certain location.  

The testing is part of the CDC’s guidance, but the new guidance for those who book for the cruise lines means that cruising is making its come back. 

For Matt Walker, the owner of Caribbean Recess a Lowcountry grown Travel Agency, he says this year they only have about a dozen reservations fo the remainder of the year. Typically, they have anywhere between 50 and 100 reservations on the Carnival ‘Sunshine’ out of Charleston alone.

But as they wait for the ‘Sunshine’ to return to Charleston places like Florida, San Juan, and Alaska are welcoming cruisers onboard. Regardless of where you set out, Walker says it’s best to take precautions. 

Whether it masks, whether you can get around the ship without touching a hand rail—I still think that’s a great idea no matter when you sail.  

Matt Walker, Owner Caribbean Recess 

But Amaral says he wishes more could be implemented for the safety of those onboard.  

He says his ideal situation would be, “that they didn’t allow unvaccinated people on the cruise—that way there wouldn’t be that uncertainty”. 

As of Tuesday, there are no cruises out of Charleston until 2022.



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