BOSTON (CBS) — The CDC said Thursday that all travelers should avoid cruises no matter their vaccination status, as the Omicron variant spreads and several ships report dozens of COVID-19 cases on board. So should anyone with an upcoming cruise vacation, or those looking to book one, change their plans?
CBS News senior travel adviser Peter Greenberg says everyone needs to weigh their own health risks.
“This is an individual decision based on your own personal medical history, what your own physician tells you and what your family tells you. It also depends on whether or not you’re vaccinated,” he told WBZ-TV. “But if you’re looking at the numbers right now. . . it’s a calculated risk that a lot of people are willing to take.”
CDC increased the Cruise Travel Health Notice to a Level 4, recommending people avoid cruise travel regardless of vaccination status, in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases occurring on cruise ships in the US and around the world.
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The overwhelming majority of those testing positive on cruises were either asymptomatic or had mild symptoms. A cruise line industry group says they are disappointed that the CDC singled out their industry, saying cases diagnosed onboard only represent a small minority of total passengers.
“There hasn’t really been an outbreak on a cruise ship, but there have been cases,” Greenberg said, citing the importance of vaccine requirements for cruise travel. “You have a system right now with 100% vaccination compliance – I don’t know of any operation that has that.”
For those who feel comfortable boarding a ship, they might soon be able to find some bargains, even though Greenberg said advanced reservations for 2022 are solid and strong.
“Very few cruise lines have been discounting because they’ve had strong forward bookings,” he said. “This CDC recommendation may result in a big hiccup for them, and if that happens, you may see some great deals.”