The guidance applies to large ship cruises as well as smaller river cruises.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning older travelers or those with underlying conditions against going on a cruise, even if they are fully vaccinated.

The latest guidance, issued Friday, warns would-be passengers who would be "at increased risk for severe illness," to avoid cruises at this time. The recommendation, meant for elderly people and those with certain medical conditions, applies to large ship cruises as well as smaller river cruises.

"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," the agency wrote in its advisory. "If you are at increased risk for severe illness and considering cruise travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, discuss this type of travel with your healthcare professional. Older adults and people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are more likely to get severely ill if they get COVID-19. People with weakened immune systems, including people who take medicines that suppress their immune systems, may not be protected even if fully vaccinated."

Since April, the CDC has recommended all cruise passengers be fully vaccinated before boarding, advice many cruise lines have heeded. The agency currently recommends cruise passengers wear a mask in shared spaces.

Row of cruise ships docked in Miami
Credit: Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Several cruise companies have moved to strengthen their COVID-19 policies in recent weeks. Carnival Cruise Line, for example, implemented an indoor mask mandate for all passengers and requires pre-boarding testing, regardless of vaccination status. And Royal Caribbean is requiring all guests to get tested before embarking.

The increased mitigation strategies come as cases in the United States continue to soar due to the delta variant. The U.S. is currently seeing a 9.7% test positivity rate on a 7-day average, according to the CDC, with new daily cases averaging more than 133,000. Of those, 98.8% can be attributed to the delta variant.

Cruise ships aren't alone in recently re-implementing mask requirements. Last week, the Transportation Security Administration extended a federal transportation mask mandate until January 2022, and several cities and businesses are requiring face coverings indoors, including Las Vegas, Chicago, and Disney.

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.