The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released their revised COVID-19 Cruise Ship guidelines; with Feb. 18 deadline to opt-in.
Cruise lines will have to determine whether or not to participate in the new voluntary program.
“The CDC is committed to continuing to work with a cruise industry,” Capt. Aimee Treffiletti, head of the CDC’s maritime unit, told reporters in January.
“We do hope that cruise lines choose to follow this program, because it does represent the best public health measures to help prevent illness onboard, and COVID transmission, as well as severe outcomes.”
New categories for onboard vaccination levels, expanded quarantine measures, daily data reporting, capacity for onboard or shoreside laboratory testing, PPE requirements, and more are all part of the new voluntary program.
The stipulation that anyone testing positive not be re-tested and be promptly quarantined is one of the most unpopular components of the guidelines.
The length of the isolation has also been criticized, as positive cases and their close contacts must be isolated for up to ten days.
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has rejected most of the measures recommended by the CDC.
In a press release, dated Feb. 10, the Association stated it is disappointing that the CDC keeps any Travel Health Notice for cruise travel.
The “CDC has long recognized the paramount importance of vaccination in protecting against COVID-19 and the vaccination rate on cruise ships is close to 100%, whereas on land it is only about 63%.”
“It seems unnecessarily discriminatory against cruise to maintain that the chances of getting COVID-19 on a cruise ‘are very high’ even if you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines,” reads the release.
According to CLIA, these guidelines undermine the validity of vaccination as the single most important indicator of public health and safety.
In any case, cruise lines that do not notify the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by Feb. 18 will be regarded to have opted out.
Thus far, 20 cruise ships have signed up for the program, most of which are presumably Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings vessels that agreed to the program before the CDC released the specifics.