The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising all travelers, even those who are fully vaccinated, to avoid cruise ships due to a rising number of COVID cases. The CDC said that the number of cases has exploded in the past two weeks, with more than 5,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on cruise ships.
During the first two weeks of December, just 162 cases of COVID-19 were reported.
“The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily between people in close quarters on board 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 CDC explained.
For those who do go on a cruise, the CDC recommends getting tested between one and three days before the cruise and within five days after returning, regardless of whether they have symptoms.
There have been several instances of outbreaks on cruise ships in recent weeks, including one on Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas that sickened 55 people. The outbreak occurred despite the fact that 95% of the passengers and crew members were fully vaccinated. The cruise line said that 98% of the people infected with the virus were fully vaccinated.
The cruise industry was not happy with the decision, which resulted in a drop in the stock prices for Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Carnival.
“We’re obviously disappointed at the CDC’s decision to raise the travel level for cruise today—especially given the overwhelming level of effectiveness of cruise protocols that are resulting in significantly lower level of cases on cruise as compared to land,” Brian Salerno with the Cruise Lines International Association told CNBC.