Have a cruise planned? Here’s what you need to know

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surprised some Thursday by issuing a warning to Americans: vaccinated or not, stay away from cruise ships.

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The warning came as the agency upgraded its advisory for cruise ships to the highest level, after more than 80 ships reported outbreaks. That number climbed again past 90 by nighttime, according to the agency’s website, which represented more than a quarter of all cruise ships worldwide.

The activity, though, was just a recommendation. Cruise ships departed Port Canaveral with plenty of passengers that afternoon, as others said they didn’t want the government putting their thumb on the industry.

“Cruise ships are sailing with some of the highest levels of COVID-19 mitigation of any industry or business segment. We continue to work closely with our cruise partners and will support them as necessary,” Port Canaveral leaders said in a statement.

READ: CDC recommendation to avoid cruising causing concern for area business owners

Channel 9 spoke to Omar Kaywan, co-founder of Goose Insurance, about what passengers planning cruises needed to know as they considered how to move forward.

“Stay calm, don’t panic,” he said. “Look at the cruise ship that you’ve booked, contact them, review your cancellation choices and options that are available to you. That might actually be able to give you some satisfaction in terms of what your options may be.”

Kaywan said the omicron variant gave his industry a chance to prove to people that travel insurance was not just worth purchasing, but a service that would follow through with its promises if expectations got derailed. Pre-pandemic, he said just 4% of travelers chose to insure their trips.

READ: CDC says to avoid cruises no matter COVID-19 vaccine status

While most domestic policies do not cover COVID-19, Kaywan said international policies that almost all cruises fall under would include some protection. He said his company’s COVID-specific policy had grown in popularity as his executives prepare to pay out policies for people who change their minds next month.

For people who decide to purchase protection, he said consumers should pay attention to quarantine and age-related policies included in the plan they purchase.

“That’s really important because the older we get, the more medical conditions we have,” he said. “Unfortunately, that’s where you see a lot of restrictions from the insurance company.”

READ: Florida sees spike in COVID cases as hospitalizations rise

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