The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all persons defer any travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide because of the increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission onboard ships. Deferring travel is especially important for older adults and all people with serious chronic medical conditions (such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease), because of their increased risk for severe disease. This health update provides information to clinicians and state and local health departments about the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation and the risks associated with travel on cruise ships, including river cruises.
Cruise ship passengers, including those who take river cruises, are at increased risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. In the past month, there have been reports of outbreaks of COVID-19 among passengers and crew on cruises. Recent examples include 696 cases and 8 deaths on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, 28 cases on the Grand Princess cruise ship in the United States, and at least 60 cases in 15 states associated with multiple Nile River voyages in Egypt as of March 14, 2020. Illness onset occurred both onboard ships and after passengers returned to the United States. The proximity of passengers and crew on small ships and boats traveling on rivers may result in an even higher number of COVID-19 infections.
Ask all patients about their planned or recent cruise ship travel, including river cruises.
Check The Epidemic Information Exchange (Epi-X) notification system for information on COVID-19 cases on cruise ships and river cruises.
State and local health departments can contact CDC’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at 770-488-7100 for assistance with obtaining, storing, and shipping appropriate specimens to CDC for testing, including after hours, weekends, or holidays.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.