The CDC has lowered their cruise warning level. They have also introduced a new program to replace their Conditional Sailing Order (CSO). Both of these changes come after the CSO was lifted on January 15th. It is clear that things are headed in the right direction in terms of how the cruise industry is being allowed to operate. But still, what does the warning level mean? And what is this new program that will be taking the place of the CSO?
Luckily, neither are much to worry about. The first bit of news is the lowered warning level. This absolutely represents a change for the better for cruises. The CDC previously had cruise travel listed as a level 4 warning, which is the highest that they use. It essentially indicated to travelers that they should avoid unnecessary cruise travel at all costs. It is now at a level 3, the step below the highest.
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), a group of united cruise lines, spoke about the lowered warning. They released a statement that said, “Cruise ships have medical, isolation and quarantine facilities on site, implement extensive response plans using private shoreside resources, and have created an environment where almost every single person is fully vaccinated. As a result, cases of COVID-19 are very low with the vast majority mild or asymptomatic—making cruise unequaled in its multi-layered approach to effectively mitigating COVID-19.” They praised the CDC’s decision and said that it “recognizes the leadership and effectiveness of the cruise sector’s health and safety protocols that are unmatched by virtually any other commercial setting.”
As for the new program being pushed by the CDC, things are still looking good there. Unlike the CSO, this new order is completely optional. While they are encouraging cruise lines to adopt it, it will not be forced upon any company. It is instead a set of instructions that the CDC believes would be wise to follow. You can read all of the instructions here. It goes over protocol regarding vaccines, quarantines, isolation, and other COVID-19 health measures.
The fact that these instructions are optional is a major win for the cruise industry. The previous CSO was quite restrictive for many cruise lines, and major companies were unable to work with it for a long time. This brings some much needed freedom back to the industry.
While the situation could always devolve back to how it was a few months ago depending on future waves of the coronavirus, things are looking much better now than they were in the past. Cruise fans should be cautiously optimistic about a relatively normal summer travel season.