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CDC is investigating 68 cruise ships run by cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean amid COVID-19 outbreaks

The Celebrity Apex.

Brittany Chang/Insider

  • The CDC is now investigating 36 ships and observing an additional 32 ships amid COVID-19 outbreaks.
  • Impacted cruise lines include Royal Caribbean, Disney, Carnival, Norwegian, and MSC Cruises.
  • A rise in COVID-19 cases has begun upending the travel industry again.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now investigating or observing almost 70 cruise ships following COVID-19 outbreaks aboard the vessels, according to the agency’s update on Monday.

According to the CDC’s website, 68 ships have either met the agency’s “investigation threshold” of crew or passengers COVID-19 outbreaks, or a health department has alerted the agency of positive COVID-19 passengers who disembarked within five days.

The CDC is currently investigating 36 ships while it has already investigated an additional 32 ships, but these vessels remain “under observation.”

Impacted ships come from cruise lines including Disney, MSC Cruises, Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity.

A Carnival spokesperson told Insider in a statement that the CDC has been “fully informed and supportive of its protocols and operational plans.” Similarly, an MSC Cruises spokesperson told Insider that the cruise line has accommodated over one million passengers with its health protocols. As of late November, these protocols have included a COVID-19 vaccine mandate among other policies. 

The remaining cruise lines did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

A Cruise Lines International Association spokesperson noted in a statement that cruise ships have seen fewer COVID-19 cases than the population on “land,” in part because of vaccine mandates. But according to a statement from a CDC spokesperson, the likelihood of getting the virus while cruising is still “high,” and it’s impossible for cruises to be a “zero-risk activity.”

This update comes as COVID-19 cases continue to spike amid the spread of the Omicron variant. This has caused some ships to be barred from passenger disembarkation or ports of call, and three major cruise lines to enforce stricter masking mandates.

The rise in covid cases among the airline workers, combined with the onset of bad weather, has also pushed airlines to cancel thousands of flights.

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