U.S. CDC says folks ought to ‘keep away from cruise journey, no matter vaccination standing’

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday advised people against cruises regardless of their vaccination status after a recent surge in positive Covid cases on board ships due to the highly contagious one Omicron variant conquered the world.

The CDC has raised its travel warning for cruises to the highest level as the agency investigates or monitors dozens of ships that have had Covid outbreaks.

Cruise lines operating in US waters reported approximately 5,000 cases of Covid to the CDC between December 15 and 29, a sharp increase compared to the first two weeks of the month when 162 cases were reported.

“It is particularly important that travelers who come to a increased risk of serious illness of COVID-19, avoid travel on cruise lines, including river cruises, worldwide regardless of vaccination status, “said the CDC.

Royal Caribbean Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival stocks fell on the news.

The CDC warned that Covid is easily transmitted between people in close proximity on ships and that the likelihood of contracting the virus while on a cruise is very high, even for people who are vaccinated and have received a booster dose.

The CDC advised people who choose to cruise to get vaccinated before their trip and receive a booster dose if necessary. Face masks should also be worn in common areas. Passengers who are not fully vaccinated should quarantine themselves for five days after the trip, according to the CDC.

The CDC also said that people taking a cruise should get tested 1 to 3 days before departure and 3 to 5 days after their trip, regardless of vaccination status or symptoms.

However, many Americans who wish to take tests at home have found empty shelves in many pharmacies due to a national shortage, and the lines in clinics can sometimes be hours.

Brian Salerno of the Cruise Lines International Association said the trading group was disappointed with the CDC’s decision.

“We are obviously disappointed with the CDC’s decision to raise the level of travel for cruises today – especially given the overwhelming effectiveness of cruise protocols, which result in significantly lower incidents on cruises compared to land,” said Salerno.

Covid cases in the US have risen to pandemic high. The US reported a seven-day average of more than 300,000 daily new Covid cases on Wednesday, an 82% increase from last week, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday that Omicron is driving the rapid surge in Covid cases.

Correction: Norwegian Cruise Lines and Carnival stocks lost more than 2% on the news. Royal Caribbean fell 1.93%. An earlier version of this story misrepresented Royal Caribbean’s stock movement.