CDC Removes COVID-19 Cruise Ship Travel Health Notice

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday, March 30 dropped its Travel Health Notice for cruise travel. Put into place more than two years ago, this served as a platform that provided guidance to consumers on restrictions in cruise travel, grading systems and collaborative protocols for sailing safety. The removal of the health notice demonstrates the transition back into pre-pandemic operations for the cruise industry.

According to USA Today, the removal of the notice doesn't mean the CDC considers the activity to be without any risk. "Travelers will make their own risk assessment when choosing to travel on a cruise ship, much like they do in all other travel settings,” a spokesperson for the health agency, told the publication. The CDC made the decision to drop the notice based on the pandemic's current state and a decrease in COVID cases on cruise ships over the past several weeks.

The CDC reports that new cases daily in the United States are just over 26,000, while deaths are at 700 per day. New cases, deaths and hospitalizations are all down from earlier in this year.

"Today’s decision by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to altogether remove the Travel Health Notice for cruising recognizes the effective public health measures in place on cruise ships and begins to level the playing field, between cruise and similarly situated venues on land, for the first time since  March 2020," said Cruise Lines International Association in a statement.

"From the onset of the pandemic, CLIA’s cruise line members have prioritized the health and safety of their guests, crew, and the communities they visit and are sailing today with health measures in place that are unmatched by virtually any other commercial setting."

Cruise Line Response

In a statement Gus Antorcha, president, Holland America Line, said, “The CDC’s removal of its health notice related to cruise travel is an important step forward in recognizing the work we have done to protect our guests. At Holland America Line, we continue to operate vaccinated cruises and have created a safe and healthy environment for our guests, our teams, and the communities we serve, helping to ensure cruising is among the safest forms of socializing and travel.

“With the remainder of our ships set to return to service in the coming weeks, Holland America Line is looking forward to safely welcoming more guests back to cruising this spring and summer as we explore Alaska, Canada, New England and Europe. We recently extended our 'Worry-Free Promise' to allow flexible cancelation for cruise bookings made by May 31 and embarking by September 30 of this year.”  

Tom McAlpin, CEO of Virgin Voyages, said, “We’re absolutely thrilled to see that the CDC recognizes that it’s time to remove the Travel Health Notice website. While we feel this was a long time coming, we recognize this move as a demonstration of all of the hard work this industry has done to ensure that we’re offering the safest way to travel. It’s refreshing to see them meet us where we’re at, and clearly where our consumers are at considering the major uptick in demand we’ve seen.”

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