Carnival Corp is dismayed by a White House recommendation to stay off cruise ships after dozens of passengers came down with Covid-19’s Omicron variant while at sea.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that people “avoid cruise travel at this time” in response to the outbreaks.
The CDC also updated its Covid risk status for cruise ships from “high” to “very high” on its website after lifting a conditional sailing order on 15 January.
“It is especially important that travellers who are at an increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19 avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises,” the federal agency said.
The CDC also urged passengers to get fully vaccinated before boarding ships and to wear masks while inside them.
“In light of our highly effective protocols, we are disappointed that the CDC, with its latest travel health notice, continues to treat the cruise industry differently than other sectors, nor does the CDC’s notice account for the cruise industry’s stringent and enhanced health and safety protocols,” New York-listed Carnival said in a statement.
Those safety measures have allowed more than 1.2m passengers to sail safely on Carnival’s ships since it resumed sailing in July 2021, the owner of 91 ships said.
“These protocols, among others, have helped us become among the safest forms of socializing and travel, with far lower incidence rates than on land.”
Royal Caribbean Group, which has 61 ships, said it is reviewing the CDC’s latest suggestions.
“We will have more information over the next few days,” spokesman Jonathon Fishman told TradeWinds.
Both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian have cancelled some voyages after finding Covid cases on some of their vessels.
On 1 February, Royal Caribbean International cancelled two cruises out of Singapore aboard the 4,905-berth Quantum of the Seas (built 2014).
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) also opposed the CDC’s latest recommendations, saying it creates market confusion in an industry that provides the highest level of virus mitigation.
“The latest CDC guidance appears out of step with the actual public health conditions on cruise ships and unnecessary in light of societal trends away from more restrictive measures,” the CLIA said in a statement.
“We are confounded by the CDC’s imposition of even more complex and unwarranted measures which ignore empirical evidence that the industry’s protocols have provided a greater level of Covid mitigation than most any other setting.”