This past Tuesday, February 15, 2022, the US' Center for Disease Control announced a change to its current Travel Health Notice. Based on a series of events, from general COVID cases dropping to cruise lines establishing an extensive private network of preventative protocols, the CDC lowered its risk warning from "Very High" to "High."
Changing to just a High warning level puts cruising at the same level of risk as visiting countries that have weathered the pandemic decently well, due to high vaccination rates and other factors. Countries like South Africa and Indonesia ranked similarly on the list, all unrecommended for those not vaccinated, but safe for those that are. For comparison, cruising now ranks as safer than visiting popular European countries like France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, who still maintain a Very High warning according to the CDC.
This new change follows months of hard work by cruise lines to establish next-level safety procedures for travelers. While the recent CDC guidelines for cruise ships have now become voluntary, you'll find safety requirements are still standard across all Great Lakes cruise lines. On board sanitation procedures, vaccination requirements, and other safety precautions now accompany vast networks of on-call doctors and medical professional testing.
It's no wonder then that cruising has been lowered to just a High warning level. The industry has invested lots into making this one of the most well thought-out means of travel in our modern era, ensuring that the immersive experiences, cultural adventures, and delicious cuisine offered by cruising aren't lost on travelers. We look forward to keeping you updated as our small ship cruise industry continues to evolve.
Updates to the CDC's Conditional Sail Order
In recent news, the United States' Center for Disease Control (CDC) has announced a change to its existing Conditional Sail Order. Mandatory for all cruise lines visiting US ports, the Conditional Sail Order required each ship to adhere to strict guidelines regarding safety and sanitation. The CSO reached its expiration on January 15, 2022, transitioning to a voluntary measure. Despite the Conditional Sail Order no longer being mandatory for ships visiting the US, the CDC plans to continue to offer recommendations for cruise lines that wish to remain compliant.
Fortunately for our Great Lakes cruise lines, the previously required CSO functioned as the very baseline for established safety protocols. Already using much smaller ships than cruise lines Carnival and Norwegian, cruises on the Great Lakes keep travelers safe with less exposure to COVID. This is in part due to fewer travelers, even more limited capacity, and robust safety measures. In addition, most Great Lakes cruises come to port in Canada at some point, where they still have to meet practical guidelines for pandemic safety.
Cruise Lines Begin to Require Booster Vaccines
As of late, we've seen Great Lakes cruise lines' COVID vaccine mandates updated to combat the newest Omicron variant. All of the current cruise lines sailing in North America require travelers to be vaccinated, but several are taking steps to prevent the latest variant's spread by requiring booster shots as well.
With these additional and existing safety protocols, our cruise lines are continuing to make small ship cruises on the Great Lakes one of the safest ways to travel.
Here are our current cruise lines requiring a COVID booster: