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The CDC says it's safe to cruise -- but don't ditch those COVID-19 tests just yet

March 30, 2022
3 min read
The CDC says it's safe to cruise -- but don't ditch those COVID-19 tests just yet
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After imposing more than two years of COVID-19 restrictions on the cruise industry, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has lifted its travel health notice for the sector, removing its warning level completely as the number of onboard cases has dropped. Most recently, the warning was at a Level 2.

What does that mean for cruisers? Nothing, really.

The change is significant because, for the first time since the start of the pandemic, there is no warning for anyone considering an at-sea vacation.

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"Today's decision by the ... 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 [ships] and similarly situated venues on land," said a statement from the Cruise Lines International Association, an organization that collectively advocates for most of the industry's major brands.

"The removal of the health notice demonstrates the transition back into pre-pandemic operations for the cruise industry," Virgin Voyages said in a statement about the CDC's decision.

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But that does not mean cruise lines are scrapping their onboard health and safety measures.

"While we feel this was a long time coming, we recognize this move as a demonstration of all of the hard work this industry has done to ensure that we’re offering the safest way to travel," said Virgin Voyages CEO Tom McAlpin.

Holland America echoed that sentiment with its president, Gus Antorcha, saying, "The CDC's removal of its health notice related to cruise travel is an important step forward in recognizing the work we have done to protect our guests. ... we continue to operate vaccinated cruises and have created a safe and healthy environment for our guests, our teams, and the communities we serve, helping to ensure cruising is among the safest forms of socializing and travel."

Since voyages restarted for U.S. cruisers in spring 2021, lines have had the most stringent rules of any travel sector, requiring passengers to be fully vaccinated, submit to health screenings and temperature checks and, until recently, stay socially distant and wear masks on board.

Lines have also developed advanced contact tracing systems and added quarantine and isolation cabins on their ships.

In December 2021, the warning level was raised to a Level 4, which advised people to avoid cruising completely, regardless of their vaccination status. In February, the agency dropped the warning to Level 3, urging at-risk passengers to steer clear of cruises, even if vaccinated.

Currently, under the CDC's travel recommendation warning system, 114 countries are under a Level 4 warning, 33 are under a Level 3, 14 are at Level 2, and 36 are at Level 1.

Featured image by Bloomberg via Getty Images
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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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees