In bad news for the cruise industry, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended that “travellers defer all cruise travel worldwide.” The announcement comes following several cases of COVID-19 on board ships in Europe, and just days before the CDC is due to make a decision on lifting its No-Sail Order, which currently runs through October 31.
Amid record rates of COVID-19 infections around the globe, the CDC has heightened its travel advisory from Level 2, “Practice Enhanced Precautions” to Level 3, “Avoid Nonessential Travel—Widespread Ongoing Transmission”.
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Increased risk of transmission on cruise travel worldwide
The CDC said on its website that it typically posts travel health notices for countries and other international destinations, not transportation, such as ships, airplanes, or trains. But because of the “unprecedented nature of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and the increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 on cruise ships, the U.S. government is advising U.S. travelers to defer all cruise travel worldwide.
“Recent reports of COVID-19 on cruises highlight the risk of infections to cruise passengers and crew. Like many other viruses, COVID-19 appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships and boats. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, there remains a risk of infected passengers and crew on board cruise ships.”
COVID-19 outbreaks reported on European cruise ships
Earlier this month, eight passengers travelling on board Costa Cruises’ Costa Diadema tested positive for COVID-19.
A spokesman for Costa Cruises parent company Carnival Corporation told USA today that the passengers had tested negative prior to embarkation in Genoa, Italy, but that following excursions in the Greek islands, they were tested again in line with the cruise line’s health and safety protocol which requires passengers to be retested if they leave the ship, and were found to be positive.
Seven passengers were found to have tested positive after the excursion, while an eighth tested positive after contact tracing found he had been in proximity to one of the members of the group.
The cruise was cut short following the incident.
Case said to have occurred on MSC Grandiosa
Also last week, a case of COVID-19 was reported on board the MSC Grandiosa, which had been one of the first ships in Europe to return to cruising and had made several week-long journeys from Italy without any reported cases.
However, according to a report in Cruise Law News, passengers who were on board a voyage of the MSC Grandiosa that departed Palermo on October 7, received an email from the Italian Ministry of Health advising them that a case of COVID-19 was confirmed on the cruise ship.
German media meanwhile reported on Friday that there has been an outbreak on board a river cruise ship with 13 cases confirmed on board the MS Vista Serenity which was sailing along the Moselle River in Germany.
CDC says wear a mask on board ships and planes
Last week, the CDC issued guidance stating that it “strongly recommends appropriate masks be worn by all passengers and by all personnel operating the conveyance while on public conveyances (e.g., airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, ride-shares) and within locations where people board such conveyances (e.g. airports, bus or ferry terminals, train stations, seaports).”
Key points of CDC travel advisory
- CDC recommends that travelers defer all cruise travel worldwide.
- On April 9, 2020, July 16, 2020, and September 30, 2020, CDC extended the No Sail Order and Suspension of Further Embarkation for ships in U.S. waters.
- Widespread ongoing spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been reported in some countries. Other countries have reported sustained community spread.
- 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 several cruise ships.
- Take extra precautions to protect others for 14 days after arrival. See Travelers Returning from Cruise Ship and River Cruise Voyages.