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2 cruise ships depart Port Tampa Sunday despite CDC advisory

On Thursday, the CDC issued a level 4 travel advisory for cruise ship travel, the highest risk level advisory there is.

TAMPA, Fla — If you're planning on taking a cruise soon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking you to reconsider. On Thursday, an advisory was issued telling travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to avoid cruising as a method of travel. 

The CDC increased the travel warning for cruises to level 4, which is the highest risk level. The CDC said it's because of the recent surge in COVID-19 outbreaks onboard the ships.

Despite the new advisory, cruising continues. On Sunday, two ships departed from Port Tampa Bay.

As vacationers wheeled their bags into the Port Tampa checkpoints, many shared their comfort with cruise travel despite the heightened travel advisories. 

"I feel 100 percent confident because everyone that's getting onboard today has been tested 48 hours prior to going out," Richard Palsha said. "I think we have all done everything we can to be safe."

As the omicron variant continues to spread, the CDC warns even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for contracting and spreading COVID-19. Cruise travelers say those warnings don't scare them. 

"Because the omicron is supposed to not make you very sick," Christian Bellingerath said before boarding. "I mean, you can give it to others, but I'm not concerned on the ship because everyone is vaccinated."

If you choose to cruise anyway, the CDC recommends getting a booster shot if eligible, before your trip. 

Under current CDC guidelines, face masks are not required to be worn on board all parts of the ship if at least 95 percent of passengers and crew members are fully vaccinated. The CDC recommends getting a COVID-19 test three to five days after you disembark, watch for symptoms, and self-isolate.

Dozens of cruise ships' voyages are listed as restricted while the CDC investigates the reported outbreaks of COVID-19 cases. 

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