A two-year advisory that warned Americans against going on cruises has been dropped by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The agency first warned Americans against cruise ship travel in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, and last year said there was an increased risk of getting infected when on the crowded vessels, CBS News reported.
"While cruising will always pose some risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers will make their own risk assessment when choosing to travel on a cruise ship, much like they do in all other travel settings," according to a CDC statement issued Wednesday.
The agency still advises passengers to get up-to-date vaccinations before boarding a cruise ship, and it suggests travelers consult with a doctor if they're immunocompromised or at higher risk for severe illness.
The CDC's decision to lift the travel advisory "recognizes the effective public health measures in place on cruise ships and begins to level the playing field, between cruise and similarly situated venues on land, for the first time since March 2020," industry group Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said in a statement.
Earlier this year, Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean lifted their mask mandates as COVID-related cases and deaths declined across the United States, CBS News reported.
Last summer, cruise lines added vaccination and testing requirements to ships that set sail from U.S. ports. But the requirements haven't prevented passengers from catching the virus: An unknown number of passengers and crew members aboard a Princess Cruise ship in California tested positive last weekend while taking a 15-day cruise to the Panama Canal.
Cruise lines were rife with COVID-19 outbreaks in the early days of the pandemic. The number of people booking cruises plummeted during the pandemic and cruise companies collectively lost $63 billion and shed thousands of jobs in 2020 and 2021, CBS News reported.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on COVID and cruise ship travel.