This week, eight Costa Cruises guests tested positive for COVID-19 during two cruises on the Costa Diadema. As USA TODAY reported yesterday, the Costa cruise ship departed from Genoa on September 28th and ended its voyage on October 12th. The ship then departed on a second 14-day cruise with many of the same passengers on board from the pevious cruise and returned to Genoa yesterday 10 days earlier than intended.

There was COVID-19 on the ship during both cruises notwithstanding Costa’s so-called “strenuous” protocols which promise atotally safe cruise. An Italian newspaper, Il Secolo XIX, reported that seven passengers were tested on Monday and were positive for the virus. Carnival told USA TODAY that “following excursions in Greek islands, they were tested again before returning to Italy, and seven preliminarily tested positive.” The guests were then retested in facilities in Palermo, again found to be positive for the virus, and then isolated ashore.

On Wednesday, another guest, a French national, became ill on the Costa Diadema and a test taken on the ship was also positive for COVID-19. The passenger was then disembarked from the ship and transported to a hospital in Naples where the patient’s doctor characterized his condition in somewhat conflicting terms. Although one newspaper account in Italy indicated that the guest had a fever and other “mild” symptoms, the 78 year-old man was described in other accounts to be in a “serious” and “worrying” condition.

The Costa cruise ship then discontinued the cruise and returned to Genoa. Costa claimed that the cruise was cut short because of the “the epidemiological situation in France.”

Although the guest was hospitalized on October 14th, Costa issued a statement on October 15th not acknowledging the hospitalization of the guest for COVID19 in Naples just the day before. The Italian newspaper, Il Secolo XIX, first learned of the COVID19 illness and reported it yesterday. Costa’s less-than-forthcoming press release raises more questions than answers. Here are the questions which I posed to Costa on Twitter yesterday and which remain unanswered:

I haven’t received any responses to these basic inquiries, but if I do I’ll update this article.

Perhaps others may have other relevant questions regarding how the “totally safe protocols” could permit as many as eight guests who went on leisure cruises and congregated in the ship’s bars, restaurants, clubs and theaters to end up being infected with COVID-19?

One reader of this blog posted this comment on our Facebook page:

“What really surprised me about this outbreak was that a French company, in a country with one of the highest outbreaks, would charter a ship, find 2500 people, bus them to Savona and lock them up together for a week. I don’t get who thought that was a good idea.”

Carnival Corporation has attemtped to justify its efforts to push the CDC to permit the resumption of cruising from U.S. ports by claiming that Costa cruises in Europe have been successful and its protocols are “totally safe.” This appears to an issue which I’m sure the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will want to take a look at.

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Photo credits: Costa Diadema – in tweets – Z Thomas – CC BY-SA 4.0 commons / wikimedia; “Totally Safe Cruise” – Costa Cruises.