Should you go on a cruise during the pandemic? The CDC has a definitive answer

should I go on a cruise coronavirus pandemic
Photo via kansasphoto/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Though the CDC’s no-sail order for cruises embarking from the U.S. expired at the end of October, most major cruise lines have canceled all travel plans until the end of 2020. Now, the CDC has made its point explicitly clear. If you’re asking yourself, “Should I go on a cruise during the pandemic,” the CDC has given you an answer: Absolutely not.

A few days after the CDC urged Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving, its latest guidance on cruise lines said the risk of catching COVID-19 on cruise ships is “very high.”

The CDC wrote that it “recommends that all people avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide … It is especially important that people with an increased risk of severe illness avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises. Cruise passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, and outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported on cruise ships.”

If travelers decide to ignore the guidance and to step onto a ship to go on a cruise anyway, the CDC recommends they get tested 3-5 days after the trip and to self-quarantine for the next seven days, no matter the outcome of the test. If you choose not to get tested, the CDC said you should quarantine for 14 days.

Considering one of the first cruises to set sail on the Mediterranean since the pandemic began almost immediately had a coronavirus outbreak in September, it’s probably not a bad idea to listen to the CDC if you have a case of ocean wanderlust.

In November, the SeaDream 1 became the first cruise ship to depart from a port in the Caribbean and it also had a COVID-19 outbreak, as seven passengers and two crew members tested positive. According to CNN, one passenger said that nobody on the ship was wearing a face mask, apparently because the ship was considered a coronavirus-free “bubble.” The ship eventually had to return to its point of origin in Barbados. Since that voyage, the SeaDream Yacht Club has decided not to sail for the rest of 2020.

Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, and Oceania also have canceled all cruises until 2021.

Still, tens of thousands of people apparently want to return to the sea as quickly as possible. According to Royal Caribbean President Michael Bayley, 100,000 people have volunteered to sail for free on a potential test cruise in 2021, part of the protocol mandated by the CDC for future voyages.

“And just like that…100,000 people have volunteered. We can’t wait to start this next phase with you all!” Bayley wrote in a Facebook post.

Sources: CDC, CNN, New York Post

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