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CDC to cruisers: Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can

April 03, 2021
5 min read
CDC to cruisers: Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can
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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday recommended that cruisers get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they can. But the agency stopped short of making it a requirement for cruising out of U.S. ports.

As part of new guidelines announced Friday for cruise lines operating out of U.S. ports, the agency urged "all eligible port personnel and travelers (passengers and crew) get a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available to them."

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The CDC suggested that a vaccine requirement would be mandatory for crew on ships operating out of U.S. ports. As part of the guidelines, the agency instructed cruise lines to develop "a plan and timeline for vaccination of cruise ship crew prior to resuming passenger operations."

The guidelines also called on cruise lines to present proposals for how they would incorporate vaccination strategies "to maximally protect passengers and crew from introduction, amplification, and spread of COVID-19 in the maritime environment and land-based communities."

The guidelines said cruise lines should educate travelers on the importance of getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

The COVID-19 vaccine-related guidelines were part of a broader set of "technical instructions" that the CDC issued Friday for cruise lines on how to set up agreements with U.S. ports and local health authorities in advance of restarting operations out of U.S. ports.

Some cruise lines such as MSC Cruises have been testing passengers for COVID-19 as they arrive for sailings but are not requiring that passengers be vaccinated for COVID-19. (Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises)

The CDC said such agreements must be in place before cruising can resume out of U.S. ports.

The CDC said the agreements should address how lines, ports and health authorities would handle an outbreak of COVID-19 on board a vessel, including a "worse case" scenario where multiple ships experience an outbreak at once.

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The CDC listed a number of specific things that must be addressed in the agreements including "clear protocols that avoid medical evacuations at sea to the greatest extent possible for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related medical reasons."

The CDC said cruise lines, ports and local health authorities must set up plans for unavoidable medical evacuations from ships that rely on commercial resources such as chartered standby vessels instead of government resources.

The plans should be "designed to minimize the burden to the greatest extent possible on federal, state, and local government resources, including U.S. Coast Guard resources," the CDC said in the guidelines. "All medical evacuations at sea must be coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard."

In a part of the instructions that could cause headaches for cruise operators, the CDC said cruise lines and ports should ensure that disembarking and embarking passengers from cruise ships do not occupy the same enclosed or semi-enclosed areas of a port within the same 12-hour period.

Such a rule could make it difficult for lines to "turn around" a cruise ship for a new departure within hours of ending a previous departure, as is the normal practice in the industry.

Under the new guidelines, a cruise ship that ends a voyage on a Saturday, for instance, might have to wait until the following day (Sunday) to start a new sailing. Such a delay could have a cascading effect on other departures scheduled in the same terminal over the coming days.

The guidelines also call on cruise lines to make contractual arrangements with medical facilities on land at the places their ships visit to accommodate passengers who might fall ill during voyages or need medical evaluation or testing.

In addition, the guidelines call on lines to make contractual arrangements with shoreside facilities in the places their ships visit for the isolation and quarantine of passengers suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, or their close contacts.

In recent weeks, more than a dozen cruise lines have announced plans to require passengers to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine before sailing, as can be seen in TPG's comprehensive guide to COVID-19 vaccine requirements at 37 major lines. At the same time, a few lines have said they would not require passengers to be vaccinated for COVID-19 — at least for now.

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Featured image by MSC Bellissima and MSC Grandiosa. (Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more