The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eased its warnings for cruises by a notch from the highest level that led to a sailing hiatus, and recommended only fully vaccinated people take trips when sailings resume from U.S. ports in a few days.
The CDC also recommended that travelers get tested 1 to 3 days before their trips and 3 to 5 days after their trips.
The health regulator’s updates, first posted on Wednesday, comes after two passengers on Royal Caribbean Group’s Celebrity Millennium tested positive, and cases of infection among crew members aboard its Odyssey of the Seas, forcing delay of its first trip.
“Since the virus spreads more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships, the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is high. It is especially important that people who are not fully vaccinated… avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises,” the CDC said.
The previous warning, the highest at level 4, imposed after incidents of rapidly spreading infections on ships last year, recommended that travelers avoid cruise trips altogether. The CDC lowered it to level 3 that indicates “high” risk.
The cruise industry and the CDC have been working together to restart cruises after the three big companies, Royal Caribbean, Carnival Corp and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd incurred huge losses and heavy debts as cruising came to a standstill.
With nearly half of the U.S population fully vaccinated, cruises are in huge demand as consumer are eager to travel after staying at home for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shares of the three cruise companies were marginally higher in early trading on Thursday.
Analysts have also noted strong booking trends and higher ticket prices, building confidence in the industry’s comeback.