CDC warns against boarding cruise ships regardless of vaccination status

[anvplayer video=”5080902″ station=”998122″]

In a typical year, millions of people around the globe board cruise ships in hopes of an unforgettable vacation. In recent months, the industry has begun to make its return after the pandemic brought it to a halt.

The spread of the omicron variant, however, is throwing a wrench into the recovery. The Centers for Disease Control issued a warning on Thursday, which tells travelers to avoid getting on a cruise ship regardless of vaccination status.

In its advisory, the CDC writes the virus "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"

According to the federal agency, a growing number of passengers and crew have tested positive since the omicron variant was detected. Dozens of ships are now reporting enough cases of COVID-19 to meet the CDC’s threshold for investigation.

“I asked the other people in our group, ‘Are you comfortable wearing masks?’” said Ryan Peterson, of White Bear Lake. “They’re fine with it and everybody’s got their vaccinations and majority of us ever boosters. If not, they’re getting it very shortly.”

Peterson leaves on a Carnival Cruise on January 15th. He and nine other people booked the cruise back in April of 2019. It was scheduled for January 2021. The cruise was ultimately canceled and so was the next cruise they tried to book for 2021.

“We just said we’ll just wait until 2022 and hopefully it’ll be better by then and vaccines will be out,” said Peterson. “It’s been booked for quite a while.”

He told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that he’s not worried about the trip itself but concerned that one of their scheduled stops will be canceled.

“Our ports of call are St. Kitts, San Juan, Grand Turk and St. Martin,” said Peterson.

Before they leave on the trip, he said they will take a COVID test. According to Carnival’s website, those who are vaccinated have to take a test within two days of the sailing date. Testing requirements are more rigorous for those who fall under the vaccine exemption.

Cruise Lines International Association released a statement Thursday opposing the CDC’s upgraded travel level. The organization called it “particularly perplexing” and wrote, “.. we are disappointed and disagree with the decision to single out the cruise industry – an industry that continues to go above and beyond compared to other sectors.”