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CDC drops its COVID-19 risk advisory for cruise ship travel

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 07: The Norwegian Gateway cruise ship is moored at PortMiami on January 07, 2022 in Miami, Florida. Norwegian Cruise Line announced it had canceled eight of its cruise ships' planned trips as COVID-19 cases continue to interrupt travelers' plans. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The Norwegian Gateway cruise ship is moored at PortMiami on Jan. 7 in Miami. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped its advisory warning Wednesday for cruise travel after more than two years of warning Americans.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has lifted its risk advisory for cruise ship travel Wednesday following two years of issuing warnings to travelers about the possibility of contracting COVID-19 onboard a cruise.

In an updateposted online, the agency removed its "Cruise Ship Travel Health Notice," a notice that recommended individuals against traveling onboard cruise ships. Three months ago, the CDC increasedits travel warnings for cruises to Level 4 — the highest level — following investigations of ships that had COVID outbreaks.

While the CDC has lifted its travel health notice, officials say it's up to the passengers to determine their own health risks before going onboard a cruise ship.

"While cruising will always pose some risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers will make their own risk assessment when choosing to travel on a cruise ship, much like they do in all other travel settings," the agency said in a statement to NPR.

The agency says it will continue to provide guidance to the cruise ship industry in order for cruise lines to operate in a way that will provide "safer and healthier" environments for crews, passengers and communities.

News of the CDC's decision to remove its travel health notice was praised by the Cruise Lines International Association, the industry's largest trade organization.

"Today's decision by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 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.

From the onset of the pandemic, CLIA's cruise line members have prioritized the health and safety of their guests, crew, and the communities they visit and are sailing today with health measures in place that are unmatched by virtually any other commercial setting."

The CDC emphasizes that travelers should make sure they're up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines before taking a cruise, in addition to following their ship's requirements and recommendations against the virus.

Travelers are urged to check their cruise ship's COVID case levels and vaccination requirements online before traveling, the agency says. Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.