MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Good news for people who love to take their vacations at sea and visit foreign ports of call. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has dropped its COVID-19 travel risk warning for cruise travel.

While that doesn’t mean there is no risk of COVID-19 transmission on cruises, “travelers will make their own risk assessment when choosing to travel on a cruise ship, much like they do in all other travel settings,” the CDC said in a statement.

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Dropping the risk warning is a relief for a sector that has instituted some of the travel industry’s strictest COVID-19 precautions.

“We are pleased with the CDC’s decision, which acknowledges the dedication the industry has demonstrated to the global health crisis that has impacted all aspects of life these past two years. We will continue to protect the health and safety of our guests, crew, and the communities we visit and keep our guests and travel advisors informed of any changes to our protocols on our Have Fun. Be Safe page,” said Carnival Cruise Line Senior Public Relations Manager Matt Lupoli in a statement.

Industry group Cruise Lines International Association said the move “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.”

CLIA said its cruise line members “are sailing today with health measures in place that are unmatched by virtually any other commercial setting.”

The CDC still advises travelers to be up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations before cruise travel. It also advises travelers to consult with their doctors about additional precautions if they are immunocompromised or at higher risk for severe illness.

Cruise travel’s CDC status has come a long way in the past few months. Three months ago, on December 30, it was moved to the agency’s highest-risk Level 4 category of travel advisories as the Omicron variant brought a surge of cases that included a higher number of breakthrough infections.

Cruise travel dropped to Level 3, or “high” risk, in February and then to Level 2, “moderate” risk, where it was listed until it dropped out of the notices altogether on Wednesday.

Vaccination and testing requirements have been widespread on cruises since large ships resumed sailing from US ports in June 2021.

CDC rules under a conditional sailing order that expired in January required 95% of both passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated to sail in most circumstances, and some cruise lines have required vaccination for all passengers and crew.

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After the CDC’s extended conditional sailing order expired In January, the agency transitioned to a voluntary opt-in program for foreign-flagged cruise ships operating in US waters.

The agency said Wednesday that it would continue to provide guidance to the cruise industry through that program.

Travelers CBS4 spoke to were excited that these restrictions have been lifted. Many oof them saying, it’s about time.

“It’s the time for people to be able to get back to living again, so for people to be able to travel to be able to spend time with family and friends to be able to,” said Stanway Gooch, a traveler visiting Miami.

Dr. Aarti Raja, an associate professor at Nova Southeastern University, said that it’s not too soon for this. With mask mandates lifted elsewhere, this seems to make sense.

“If the mask mandates are removed there, I think the next step is to the next stage which is travel. I wouldn’t say it’s too soon I would just say it’s isolating at a very step-by-step fashion,” said Raja.

All cruise companies have stated that they will still be prioritizing the health and safety of their crew, guests and communities they visit.

“People really didn’t want to travel at all and I think it’s about time that they’re doing this. I think everyone should be able to make their own decisions whether they want to wear a mask or no mask,” said Karin Link, a traveler visiting Miami.

Travelers are advised to check their cruise ship’s color code and vaccination status classification online before traveling. The CDC dashboard tracks COVID-19 cases reported for each ship in the program, whether a ship has opted out and other COVID-related information.

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CBSMiami.com Team