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CDC advises against cruise ship travel, raises COVID threat level

The agency issued a warning for all travelers.

cruise-ship-at-mykonos
The Celebrity Reflection docked in Mykonos in pre-pandemic times. 
Kent German/CNET
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

As omicron cases rise, travel restrictions related to COVID-19 are becoming tighter and tighter. Thousands of flights have been canceled globally since the December holidays began, leaving airlines and travelers scrambling to figure out contingencies. But those hoping to make their cruise trips may need to abandon those plans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just issued a stark warning for travelers in the wake of outbreaks on multiple cruise ships.

The agency updated its advisory on Dec. 30 regarding travel health for cruises and raised the overall threat level from 3 to 4 -- its highest -- which indicates a "very high level" of COVID-19. The warning states to avoid cruise travel, regardless of vaccination status, and notes that the change was made to reflect the ongoing and increased risk of contracting the omicron variant.

Previously, the CDC advised travelers get fully vaccinated and receive a test one to three days prior to cruise travel. Additionally, mask and social distancing guidelines continued to be enforced on board for all passengers. Carnival relaunched its sailing itineraries this year for fully vaccinated crew and passengers only, including children ages 5-11.

As of Wednesday, the CDC has 88 cruise ships under investigation for new COVID-19 cases. That includes vessels from Norwegian, Viking, Carnival, Walt Disney, Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise lines. In the past week, several Carnival ships were denied permission to enter or disembark at their foreign destinations, and Royal Caribbean experienced an increase in cancellations and a decrease in bookings, Reuters reported. CNET has reached out to Carnival for comment, but has not heard back..

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.