CDC Now Advises Against Cruises Regardless of Vaccination Status

"The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily between people in close quarters onboard ships," the advisory read.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now advising people to avoid cruising regardless of their vaccination status.

Announced Thursday, the CDC designated cruising a "high risk" travel activity as cases of the omicron variant have emerged on multiple cruise ships.

Aerial Norwegian Gem Norwegian Cruise Line
The Norwegian Gem. Michel Verdure/Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

"The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily between people in close quarters onboard ships, and the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high, even if you are fully vaccinated and have received a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose," the advisory read.

Currently, the agency is investigating COVID-19 cases on more than 90 ships, according to Reuters.

The CDC also encouraged those who do decide to go on a cruise to "make sure" they are fully vaccinated and boosted as well as test for COVID-19 before and after their trip. Many cruise lines already require a negative COVID-19 test prior to departure.

The advisory also referred to its Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, which has been extended until Jan. 15.

Both Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean have reported positive COVID-19 cases on ships this month, which prompted the reinstating of mask rules while on board. Carnival Cruises also strengthened its mask policy while implementing a no smoking policy and "sip and cover" rule for drinking in casinos.

Royal Caribbean also suspended its bookings for last-minute trips to ensure social distancing among guests.

The CDC's advisory and the spike in cases comes just as the travel industry began recovering from the pandemic. Cruise lines in the U.S. and around the world had returned to sailing with restrictions like testing, social distancing, and vaccine requirements.

On land, the omicron variant made holiday plans even more stressful than normal due to positive rates of COVID-19 surging just before Christmas and New Year's Eve. Cities around the country, including New York City and Los Angeles, have implemented a vaccine mandate for indoor businesses like restaurants.

Christine Burroni is Travel + Leisure's Digital News Editor. Find her keeping up with just about everything on Twitter or see what she's up to in NYC or on her latest trip on Instagram.

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