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To cruise or not to cruise?

A sunset seen from the bow of a ship.

As coronavirus vaccinations increase, Americans are thinking about traveling again. But if your mind is turning to that cruise vacation you postponed during the pandemic, there are a few good things to know before you answer the call of the open water.

Know the risks

First, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated avoid cruises for now. Being in a confined or crowded space with other people increases your risk of contracting or spreading the virus.

Plus, medical care on cruise ships or at ports of call can be limited, and you may be far from help during parts of your trip. So the CDC strongly suggests that people who are at greater risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19 avoid cruises altogether, even if they have been fully vaccinated. This includes older adults, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems.

Ready to risk it?

If you do decide to go on a cruise, there are steps you can take to stay safer.

Before your cruise:

  • Get vaccinated. You're considered fully vaccinated two weeks after a single-dose vaccine or two weeks after your second shot of a two-dose vaccine.
  • Discuss your travel plans with your doctor. Ask if there are any other vaccines you should get or precautions you should take.
  • Consider buying travel insurance that covers your medical care and evacuation if you do get sick.
  • Take a COVID-19 test one to three days before you travel. If you test positive, be ready to cancel your travel plans.

During your cruise:

  • Wear a mask and maintain social distancing when around other people.
  • Continue to wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. And try not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid anyone who is sick on board.
  • Self-isolate if you experience symptoms such as a fever or cough. If you think you are sick, let the cruise ship's medical staff know.

After your cruise:

  • Get a COVID-19 test three to five days after you get home.
  • If you test positive, stay home for at least two weeks. Avoid contact with other people.
  • If you're not fully vaccinated, stay home for seven days after your cruise, regardless of your test results. And avoid being around others at high risk for severe illness.
  • If you develop any coronavirus symptoms, stay home.

Stay shipshape

COVID-19 isn't the only concern for cruise travelers. Lots of germs can be passed around on board. So before you step aboard, brush up on these secrets to a healthful cruise.

Reviewed 9/8/2021

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