(RxWiki News) Remember cruise ships? They're still roaming the world's oceans, and health officials are setting guidelines for safe cruising during the pandemic.
Cruise ships pose a particularly risky situation in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. They put people in relatively close quarters for an extended period of time, and that means transmission of the virus may be more likely.
That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has chosen to weigh in on this particular issue as it relates to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Here's what you need to know.
The Cruise Ship Color System
The CDC has implemented a system that tracks cruise ships and their COVID-19 status based on color-coding. You can find the tracking and color information for specific cruise ships here.
Here's a quick summary of what each color means:
- Green means a ship has had no reported cases of COVID-19 or an illness that resembles it.
- Yellow means a ship has had cases, but the number is below the CDC's threshold for investigation.
- Orange means the ship's number of COVID cases has met the CDC's investigation threshold.
- Red means additional public health measures are in place on the ship after its case numbers exceeded the investigation threshold.
- Gray means the CDC has not reviewed the ship's COVID safety protocols because the ship has opted out of the color program.
It's important to note that the CDC still advises against travel on any cruise ship while the pandemic is still going on. However, if you are going to take a cruise, these color designations can play a part in your decision-making and planning.
Vaccinations Before Departure
The CDC advised anyone who was going to take a cruise to ensure that they are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations. Keep in mind that the agency has approved and recommends booster shots for most people.
Regardless of vaccination status, it is still possible to contract COVID-19 on a cruise ship, the CDC noted.
Testing Before and After
Testing for COVID-19 is a key way to prevent the spread of the virus on cruise ships and in the general population after cruises. The CDC recommended that all cruise ship travelers get tested for COVID-19 as close to their departure date as possible — at least within three days of the planned departure date.
The agency also recommended getting a viral test for COVID-19 between three and five days after your cruise has ended. These recommendations were intended for all travelers regardless of their vaccination status.
Masks on Cruise Ships
The CDC noted that cruise ships may have their own mask protocols, but the general rule is to wear a well-fitting mask over your nose and mouth when in crowded outdoor spaces (such as the ship's deck) and any indoor space.
However, the agency said it's not necessary to wear a mask while you are inside your own cruise ship cabin.
In addition to wearing a mask, washing your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer frequently is one of the best ways to stay healthy, the CDC noted.
Talk to your health care provider about your individual risk for severe COVID-19.