The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended people avoid cruise travel, regardless of their vaccination status.
The CDC changed its status for cruising from level 3 to level 4 on Thursday, reflecting the emergence and spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
It said the change had been made as Covid-19 “spreads easily between people in close quarters onboard ships, and the chance of getting Covid-19 on cruise ships is very high, even if you are fully vaccinated and have received a Covid-19 vaccine booster dose”.
Clia said it was “disappointed” with the move and “disagreed with the decision to single out the cruise industry”, Travel Weekly in the US reported.
The association added: “Cases identified on cruise ships consistently make up a very slim minority of the total population onboard – far fewer than on land – and the majority of those cases are asymptomatic or mild in nature, posing little to no burden on medical resources onboard or onshore.”
As of Thursday, the CDC was monitoring 91 ships where Covid cases had been reported and met its threshold for investigation.
Earlier on Thursday, Royal Caribbean Group had issued an update on the impact of Omicron on its business, in which it said its experience mirrored medical research which suggested the variant was more transmissable but resulted in less severe symtoms.
Richard Fain, the company’s chief executive, said: “Omicron is having a big short-term impact on everyone, but many observers see this as a major step towards Covid-19 becoming endemic rather than epidemic.
“We don’t like to see even one case, but our experience is a fraction of the comparable statistics of virtually any other comparable location or industry.”
Chief medical officer Dr Calvin Johnson added: “The company is navigating through the ever-evolving information on the Omicron variant. Our case count has spiked, but the level of severity is significantly milder. We will remain nimble and in constant contact with health authorities.”
Royal Caribbean said the emergence of the Omicron variant had led to a decline in bookings and increased cancellations for near-term sailings, but said both trends were to a lesser degree than when the Delta variant emerged.