There has been a recent explosion of COVID-19 cases on cruise ships, led by the major U.S. based cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL). None of these companies are being transparent with members of the public who are largely reliant on whisle-blower crew members and concerned cruise guests to tell them the truth about the virus.

NCL’s Norwegian Breakaway

Two weeks ago, NCL’s Norwegian Breakaway experienced a COVID-19 breakout which initially affected  “nine crew members and eight passengers.” The public learned of the outbreak via tweets by the Louisiana Department of Health which, unlike the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), revealed precise information regarding exactly how many coronavirus cases there were on this cruise ship and the number of guests and crew infected before the ship even returned to port in New Orleans. This state health department even informed the public that one crew member was infected with the Omicron varient.

Meanwhile, several publications reported that guests on the NCL ship had no idea that a single passenger or crew members on the ship had tested positive including the Omicron varient. NCL falsely claimed that the outbreak intially involved only a “handful” of cases when the actual count is now at least twenty infected guests and crew members.

The information was obviously taken seriously enough by a large number of passengers who were scheduled to board the NCL cruise ship that they decided not to board the ship. One guest estimated that as any as four hundred guests decided at the last moment not to cruise, whereas a crew member estimated that one hundred and fifty guests changed their minds. Whatever the actual number, the prompt, accurate and precise reporting by the Loiuisiana Department of Health illustrates the importance of transparency of health departments regarding matters of public health. The transparency of  the Louisiana health department is to be sharply contrasted with state health departments like that in Florida, which has been effectively muzzled by Republican DeSantis for selfish political purposes.

We subsequently reported that an additional three crew members (a recreational staff member, a stateroom attendant and a musician) on the Norwegian Breakaway tested positive for COVID-19 during the initial couple of days of the next cruise, based on information from a trustworthy NCL crew member.

Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas

The Jewel of the Seas, which has a history of guest and crew member COVID-19 infections since last July, again experienced a group of passengers testing positive for the virus. Unfortunately the CDC’s COVID-19 color code reporting system erroneously showed a “green” designation (no cases) whch we pointed out on Thusday in our article titled Additional COVID-19 Cases Aboard Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas. By Friday, the CDC had changed its designation for the cruise ship to “yellow”indicating that the “reported cases of COVID-19 have met the threshold for CDC investigation.”

The utility of the CDC’s color code system is rather limited as it does not indicate whether there are two or twenty or two hundred positive cases (if it accurately indicated the presence of COVID-19 cases on the ship at all).

We have subsequently received additional information from a trustworth shipboard employee on this Royal Caribbean cruise ship indicating that:

“Another 4 PCR Covid positive guests detected today, making a total of 8 positive onboard. All these guests are moved to the “red zone” till tomorrow morning, when they will be disembarked in Miami. Contact-tracing guests are isolated in their staterooms till the end of the voyage as well.”

The crew member additionally commented:

“The Hotel Director, F&B director and restaurant operation manager are isolated for 10 days (contact tracing identified them in close contact with some top tier guests, who are Covid positive).

We are short of staff onboard in certain departments, mainly in front of the house, it was a challenge this week to handle 1600 guests and tomorrow we are expecting more then 2000 guests here.

The ship is definitely overcrowded, as one of the main things to prevent outbreaks is the social distancing and we have way too many people spending their time in lounges, especially restaurants and queing waiting to be seated to My-Time dining area (main dining room area with flexible timing for dinner).
It’s certainly not a good idea to cruise nowadays on the ship which is almost fully booked.

Also, we stay today together with Symphony of the Seas in Coco Cay. As per our colleagues from Symphony, there are around 30 positive Covid guests onboard!”

Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas

Yesterday, a passenger on the Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas stated via Twitter that there are as many as 36 COVID-19 cases amongst the guests, based on information received from a crew member. This guest’s family member was infected and he was complaining that she was largely unattended by the medical staff while attepting to find infomation about the testing procedure for him and his family.

Another Twitter user tweeted this morning as new passengers were preparing to board that there were over 50 COVID-19 cases on the Royal Caribean cruise ship:

Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Panorama

Meanwhile, guests aboard the Carnival Panorama stated yesterday, via Twitter, that Mexico will not permit passengers from the cruise ship to disembark the cruise ship in Cabo because there reportedly are COVID-19 cases involving guests onboard. As usual, Carnival Cruise Line refuses to disclose the number of positive virus cases, whether crew members are also infected, and whether there are any Omicron variant cases involved.

There are forty cruise ships leaving from U.S. ports with COVID-19 aboard, including nineteen cruise ships operated and owned by Royal Caribbean.

With the Omicron varient spreading throughout the U.S., there is every certainty that this highly contagious COVID-19 varient will cause havoc on cruise ships leaving ports in Florida and other U.S. states. Omicron found its way onto NCL and Royal Caribbean cruise ships over two weeks ago. It is probably on Carnival Cruise Line ships as well, although Carnival is the last cruise line which would voluntarily release such information.

A shout out to the brave crew members and the conscientous guests who have provided the above information. Thanks to them we now know what is actually happening at sea on these largely lawless cruise ships.

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December 18, 2021 Evening Update: According to one of the guests, Royal Caribbean has sent some of the infected guests to a Holiday Inn in Miami.

December 19, 2021 Update: The Sun Sentinel newspaper reports that there were at easr forty-four positive COVID-19 cases on the Symphony of the Seas, which departed yesterday on another cruise from Miami.  Stay tuned for additional news.

Image credit: Symphony of the Seas – top – Darthvadrouw – CC BY-SA 4.0; Norwgian Breakaway – Gerard Bottino/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images/ Axios.