"Make sure you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines before cruise ship travel," the CDC wrote in its latest recommendation.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has once again lowered its warning against cruise ship travel, recommending Americans be vaccinated before boarding a ship.

The agency classified cruise ship travel as a "Level 2" out of four this week, a significant downgrade from last year when the CDC told Americans to avoid embarking on a cruise ship altogether, regardless of their vaccination status.

The CDC had previously lowered its warning to a "Level 3" in February.

"Make sure you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines before cruise ship travel," the CDC wrote in its latest recommendation. "Getting vaccinated is still the best way to protect yourself from severe disease, slow the spread of COVID-19, and reduce the number of new variants."

The new classification indicates there are between 500 and 999 new COVID-19 crew cases recorded over the past 14 days, or a "moderate" level of COVID-19 transmission on board ships.

The agency still recommends that people who are "not up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19" avoid getting on a cruise ship.

The Norwegian Escape cruise ship sails in The Caribbean
Credit: Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

In January, the CDC allowed its Conditional Sail Order to expire, making its guidance optional for cruise lines. Now, the agency allows cruise lines to opt in to its program and classifies cruise ships by vaccination status.

In the weeks since, several cruise lines have relaxed onboard masking and vaccination policies, including Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival Cruise Line.

Outside of the cruise industry, several countries have started to roll back pandemic-era protocols, like France, which re-classified the United States as a "green" country, welcoming both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers, and suspended its vaccination pass. Similarly, both Ireland and Iceland have eliminated all COVID-19-related border restrictions.

And in the U.S., both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have eased or eliminated COVID-19-related protocols for domestic travelers.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.