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CDC’s role in helping cruise ship travelers during the COVID-19 pandemic
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  • Description:
    Updated July 23, 2020

    Outbreaks of infectious diseases can happen on cruise ships because people spend time close together and with travelers from many countries. The current scientific evidence suggests that cruise ships pose a greater risk of COVID-19 transmission than other settings because of the high population density onboard on ships, which are typically more densely populated than cities or most other living situations. While this is one contributing factor, CDC’s surveillance data show that drastically decreasing population onboard does not end transmission. Other factors likely contributing to onboard transmission are crew living and working in close quarters in a partially enclosed environment where social distancing may prove challenging, even with a limited number of people onboard. Additionally, mild illnesses and asymptomatic infections make case detection and isolation and quarantine practices based on clinical presentation alone challenging. Thus, covert spread of infection among crew may keep the virus circulating from one voyage to the next. Disease can spread between ships when crew members from a ship with an outbreak transfer to other ships. Infected people may also travel on cruise ships between countries. For these reasons, outbreaks of COVID-19 on cruise ships pose a risk for rapid spread of disease beyond the voyage and into communities across the globe.

    Because of the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the high risk of COVID-19 spread on cruise ships, the US government issued a No Sail Order for cruise ships in waters subject to US jurisdiction and has advised US travelers to defer all cruise travel. The No Sail Order is published in the Federal Register.

    CDC continues to work to control COVID-19 on cruise ships at sea while also protecting against further introduction and spread of COVID-19 into communities. The COVID-19 pandemic is constantly evolving, and aggressive efforts are needed to contain the spread. CDC will continue to evaluate and update our recommendations as the situation evolves.

  • Content Notes:
    What is the No Sail Order? -- How long is the No Sail Order in effect? -- Why did CDC extend the No Sail Order? -- What cruise ships does the No Sail Order cover? -- What does the No Sail Order mean for my upcoming trip? -- What is CDC doing to help cruise ships with crew still on board? -- Cruise Ships International Voyages Affected by COVID-19.
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