CDC Investigating 86 Cruise Ships Amid New COVID-19 Outbreaks

CDC Investigating 86 Cruise Ships Amid New COVID-19 Outbreaks CDC Investigating 86 Cruise Ships Amid New COVID-19 Outbreaks A cruise ship is pictured docked in New York city on Dec. 5, 2021. (Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images)

By Charles Kim | Tuesday, 28 December 2021 06:35 PM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating 86 different cruise ships, and closely monitoring 48 of them after they went above the agency’s threshold for new COVID-19 cases, the CDC reported Tuesday.

The report is an update to the continuing order for cruise ships that started in October and has been extended to Jan. 15.

These cruise ships all had a “yellow” designation on the CDC website chart as of Dec. 27.

For ships with 6,500 or more passengers, the threshold is 0.1%, or seven or more cases occurring in the previous seven days, and includes cases occurring within five days of disembarkation, or one or more cases reported in the crew, according to the agency.

Twenty-two ships reported no cases, getting a “green” designation, and three ships received an orange designation for cases only among the crew that are below the CDC threshold.

There were no ships with a “red” designation, which are above the threshold and require “additional public health measures.”

“The color-coding system is only applicable to foreign-flagged cruise ships operating or planning to operate in U.S. waters, including cruise ships operating outside of U.S. waters if the cruise ship operator intends for the ship to return to operating in international, interstate, or intrastate waterways subject to the jurisdiction of the United States,” the agency’s description of the color-coded system said.

The classifications come as the omicron variant of COVID-19 is rapidly spreading throughout the world, increasing the number of cases to record numbers in many countries.

The cruise industry started a comeback in September after being effectively shutdown since the spring of 2020.

“We have to show people this is the safest way to travel. … I'm confident it's safer than going to the drugstore or going to the movie theater,” Tom McAlpin, CEO of Virgin Voyages, told Axios in September — citing its COVID-19 protocols.

By November, however, the emergence of the omicron variant threatened the comeback as people began to re-assess their holiday travel plans.

“They're receiving a torrent of inquiries: Can I rebook? Can I get a refund? What do you think is going to happen?” Paul Charles, founder of a U.K.-based global travel consultancy, The PC Agency told Axios in November. “That’s what happens when you create uncertainty. You create a loss of confidence and consumers hunker down."

According to the publication, some 44 nations, including the United States have imposed travel restrictions as omicron continues to spread.