ATLANTA — After a long two years, the CDC has dropped its Cruise Ship Travel Health Notice.
While the CDC’s guidance technically applies only to U.S. citizens and companies operating out of the U.S., its decisions carry enormous weight globally. And this latest announcement is another major and positive development in the cruise industry’s recovery in the wake of the pandemic.
CDC spokesperson Dave Daigle told USA Today: “Travellers will make their own risk assessment when choosing to travel on a cruise ship, much like they do in all other travel settings.”
In response here’s what CLIA had to say: “Today’s decision by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to altogether remove the Travel Health Notice for cruising recognizes the effective public health measures in place on cruise ships and begins to level the playing field, between cruise and similarly situated venues on land, for the first time since March 2020.”
Virgin Voyages was one of the first out of the blocks with its own statement, in the wake of the CDC’s announcement.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to see that the CDC recognizes that it’s time to remove the Travel Health Notice website,” said Virgin Voyages CEO, Tom McAlpin. “While we feel this was a long time coming, we recognize this move as a demonstration of all of the hard work this industry has done to ensure that we’re offering the safest way to travel. It’s refreshing to see them meet us where we’re at, and clearly where our consumers are at considering the major uptick in demand we’ve seen.”
McAlpin adds that Virgin Voyages, which officially launched in 2021 after a pandemic delay, is seeing “unprecedented demand” with bookings up nearly 120% from January to March 2022. Virgin Voyages now has two ships: Scarlet Lady with sailings in the Caribbean and Valiant Lady with sailings in the UK and launching from Barcelona this May. Virgin Voyages’ third ship, Resilient Lady, will debut in Athens this summer. The brand’s fourth ship will debut in 2023.
Holland America Line also weighed in with a statement.
“The CDC’s removal of its health notice related to cruise travel is an important step forward in recognizing the work we have done to protect our guests. At Holland America Line, we continue to operate vaccinated cruises and have created a safe and healthy environment for our guests, our teams, and the communities we serve, helping to ensure cruising is among the safest forms of socializing and travel,” said Gus Antorcha, President, Holland America Line.
“With the remainder of our ships set to return to service in the coming weeks, Holland America Line is looking forward to safely welcoming more guests back to cruising this spring and summer as we explore Alaska, Canada, New England, and Europe,” he added.
Holland America recently extended its Worry-Free Promise to allow flexible cancellation for cruise bookings made by May 31 and embarking by Sept. 30, 2022.
Earlier this month the Canadian government downgraded Canada’s ban against cruise travel for Canadian travellers, instead advising cruise travellers to exercise a high level of caution.