U.S. CDC increases travel warning for cruise ships to the highest level

Cruise ships

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised people against going on cruises regardless of vaccination status, raises its travel health notice level for cruises to its highest level. 

It comes as cruise ships in U.S. waters reported around 5,000 covid cases between December 15-29, compared to only 162 cases in the first two weeks of December. 

In a travel notice found on its website, the CDC said that “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.”

Global cruise industry body Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said the decision by the CDC was “perplexing considering that cases identified on cruise ships consistently make up a very slim minority of the total population onboard, and far fewer than that on land.”

“It is also the case that cruise provides one of the highest levels of demonstrated mitigation against the virus. Cruise ships offer a highly controlled environment with science-backed measures, known testing and vaccination levels far above other venues or modes of transportation and travel, and significantly lower incidence rates than land,” it argued. 

“While 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—CLIA and our ocean-going cruise line members remain committed to working collaboratively with the CDC in the interest of public health and safety.”

Analysts from Deutsche Bank noted that the recent headlines had a fairly inconsequential impact on cruise shares. 

“We think the primary reason for that is that investors don’t see near-term disruptions related to the revised CDC guidance as being a threat to derail the meaningful recovery in cruise earnings that is expected to commence in the second half of 2022.”

“While there are likely to be some incremental itinerary disruptions and/or cancellations in coming weeks, we do not at this time see reason to be overly concerned about the peak summer season of 2022 or beyond,” said the analysts.