The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will require cruise lines departing from U.S. ports to continue to follow CDC protocols for COVID-19 on ships under its jurisdiction until January 15, 2022. The navigation order The agency’s conditional (CSO) was due to expire this weekend, November 1, 2021, but has just been extended until January 13, 2022. After January 15, if CDC does not extend the CSO again , cruise lines will be allowed to voluntarily follow their own policies to detect and control the spread of COVID-19 on their ships.
The CDC said that when cruise lines started resuming “paid travel” from the United States in the past four months, between June 26 and October 21, 2021, there was 1,359 Laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 on cruise ships reported to CDC.
COVID-19 remains a problem on cruise ships despite high vaccination rates
The resumption of cruises in the United States has led to “the introduction and sustained transmission of COVID-19” among cruise ships, despite high vaccination rates among crew and passengers.
According to @CDCgovextension of the conditional boarding order #cruise vessels subject to CDC jurisdiction experienced a total of 1,357 confirmed +# COVID-19[FEMALE[FEMININE cases involving passengers and crew, including 3 ships with a total of 275 positive virus cases over multiple cruises https://t.co/aw9HbsWpQ0 pic.twitter.com/HZIxgvpPly
– James (Jim) Walker (@CruiseLaw) October 27, 2021
It does not appear that COVID-19 cases where guests disembarked from the cruise ship and then tested positive were included in this total, even when the guest was exposed to COVID-19 during the cruise and likely contracted there. disease.
The CDC has not given any details regarding COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships sailing from US waters. For example, the Federal Health Agency did not disclose the name of a single cruise line or cruise ship.
Cruise passengers stay in the dark
Cruise lines, or of course, never disclose to the public when their guests or crew are infected, unless there is information released by the media first. Foreign health agencies sometimes publish articles about epidemics. Belize’s health department, for example, disclosed the number of crew members infected following a major outbreak of COVID-19 on the Vista Carnival earlier this summer.
– James (Jim) Walker (@CruiseLaw) August 15, 2021
Cruise lines like Carnival will never disclose a passenger’s death from COVID-10. Cruise lines also won’t admit that there are repeated virus outbreaks on consecutive cruises.
A series of major COVID-19 epidemics
The CDC, in its order extending the conditional navigation order until next year, highlighted what it described as “several major epidemics” on cruise ships:
- 21 infected – On July 24, 2021, a symptomatic passenger who tested positive for COVID-19 on a cruise ship (Cruise Ship A) was epidemiologically linked to 20 additional cases of COVID-19 on two trips, including 2 passengers and 18 members of the ‘crew.
- 58 infected – between July 24 and August 28, a cruise ship (Cruise Ship B) reported 58 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases among passengers and crew.
- 13 infected – between July 29 and July 31, 2021, three symptomatic passengers tested positive for COVID-19 on a cruise ship (Cruise Ship C). Contact tracing and testing identified 12 other laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 10 passengers and 2 crew members.
- 7 infected – between July 26 and August 6, a cruise ship (Cruise Ship D) reported 7 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases among passengers and crew.
- 105 infected – Between August 19 and September 7, a cruise ship (Cruise Ship E) reported 105 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases among passengers and crew on a total of four consecutive trips.
- 112 infected – between August 21 and September 7, a cruise ship (Cruise Ship F) reported a total of 112 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases among passengers and crew on four consecutive trips
Other than a brief mention of the 315 COVID-19 cases referenced above, the CDC did not mention any of the other more than 1,000 positive COVID-19 cases on board ships.
The most positive virus cases concern “break-in infections” of vaccinated passengers and crew
COVID-19 vaccination rates on all of these unnamed ships were at or very close to 100% for the crew and between 96.4% and 100% for the passengers. Some of the cases apparently involved unvaccinated children, but the majority involved fully vaccinated adults.
Dozens of medical evacuations and hospitalizations involving passengers and crew of cruise ships due to COVID-19
The CDC also mentioned that cruise lines have reported that COVID-19 cases have resulted in number of hospitalizations (49) and medical evacuations from ships (28).
Other than a passing reference to the death of a passenger who died from COVID-19, the CDC did not mention the number of passengers and crew members of ships navigating in US waters who have died from COVID. -19. This summer, we at least recently reported a crew member and guest who sailed on Carnival ships that died from the dangerous virus.
We have reported cruise passengers who required life-saving emergency medical treatment when they developed symptoms of COVID-19 during the cruise. Usually the source of our information is the foreign press. See for example – Cruise Passenger in “Bad Shape” at Belize Hospital.
The MSC Virtuosa – An example of a cruise ship not subject to the CDC
There have been several guest deaths on the MSC Virtuoso, sailing this summer from the UK, in a series of back-to-back cruises where more than 200 passengers and more 50 crew members were infected. MSC Cruises reportedly overcrowded this new cruise ship and failed to enforce mask protocols and social distancing procedures.
The MSC Virtuoso was not under the jurisdiction of the CDC because it did not sail from US ports or US waters during these cruises. This is a good example of what would happen if the US Federal Health Agency did not oversee the health and safety of foreign-flagged cruise ships and cruise lines were free to ignore their own masks and protocols. social distancing.
How do consumers make informed decisions about the risk of infection on a particular cruise ship when neither the cruise line nor the CDC is transparent?
A follower of our Cruise Law News Facebook page left the following comment:
“I wish there was more transparency. I would like to know, for each cruise taken, how many people were on board, if there were any cases and how many, and what was the vaccination rate. Then people can do their own risk assessment. For some people, these cases seem like an acceptable amount, but not for others. “
There are significant differences between Carnival, Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises and NCL regarding their COVID-19 protocols and their general attitude towards the health and safety of their guests and crew. But, currently, it is not possible to calculate the per capita rate of contracting COVID-19 on one ship or cruise brand compared to another. This is largely because the cruise line goes out of its way to cover up the real information when a COVID-19 outbreak occurs on their ships.
I would say that generally speaking, going on a voluntary leisure cruise during a deadly pandemic remains dangerous and reckless.
But for those looking to minimize the risk of contracting this disease, here are some recommendations I have to offer:
- Get vaccinated (and find out which vaccines have the highest rates of effectiveness);
- Follow all CDC masking and social distancing protocols;
- Avoid cruise lines and cruise ships that operate at full or high capacity;
- Avoid cruise ships that have not upgraded their ventilation and air conditioning systems and installed high quality HEPA filters;
- Avoid interior cabins without windows or balconies (only book cabins with balconies);
- Avoid cruise ships that allow unvaccinated passengers (including children) on board;
- Avoid routes that call at stopovers with low vaccination rates;
- Avoid cruise lines (like Carnival Cruise Line) with a history of guests making fun of people who wear masks (for example, read Carnival Panorama: The Last “Fun” Ship With COVID-19 On Board).
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Image credit: Top – Carnival view – Gordon Leggett / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia via “Carnival Cruise Line admits positive cases of COVID-19 aboard Carnival Vista, but refuses to indicate number of infected guests”; environment – Carnival view – Daniel Slim / AFP / Getty Images via CNN; bottom – MSC Virtuosa – Phil Nash Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 & GFDLViews.