Less than a month after lowering the cruise travel health notice from a Level 4 to a Level 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has once again dropped its warning for cruise ships down a notch.
On Monday, March 14, the public health agency lowered cruise travel to a Level 2, which indicates that taking a cruise presents a “moderate” health risk. Previously, at Level 3, cruising was in the CDC’s “high” risk category.
There are four travel health notice levels, which are generally used to assess the health risk of various destinations around the world: Level 4 “very high,” Level 3 “high,” Level 2 “moderate,” and Level 1 “low.”
Previous to mid-February 2022, the notice for cruising was at a Level 4.
Level 2 means that, based on statistics, the CDC has seen 50 to 99 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days. For cruises, it means that there has been a major decrease in onboard cases among guests and crew for ships operating in the United States.
At Level 2, the CDC advises that everyone is up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. Those who are not or are at an increased risk for severe illness should avoid cruising.
For the CDC to lower the cruise travel health risk down to a Level 1, ships must have fewer than 50 new cases per 100,000 people over the past 28 days.
With the notice being lowered from Level 4 to Level 3 last month, most cruise lines dropped their mask mandates almost entirely, many with the exception of select indoor venues such as the theater or kids’ clubs. As well, a number of lines that previously weren’t allowing unvaccinated kids onboard began allowing them.
Cruise companies continue to have vaccination policies in place, however. Most are only requiring initial vaccine doses and not booster shots, but some do require boosters such as Azamara and Silversea Cruises.
Only time will tell how cruise lines may change their health protocols again based on the CDC’s new cruise level.