Three recent cruises aboard Princess Cruises cruise ships have involved many dozens of guests testing positive for COVID-19 according to passengers aboard the Caribbean Princess, Ruby Princess and Sky Princess ships. In all three cases, Princess Cruises did not say how many people tested positive, demonstrating the typical lack of transparency by a Carnival Corporation-owned brand.

The headline of the Vancouver Sun stated  that the Caribbean Princess had “lots of COVID” on board the ship.

“The whole 12th floor is an isolation ward,” said Ally Carol of Richmond to the Times Colonist newspaper. She boarded the Princess cruise ship in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with her partner in late March for a 19-day cruise to Canada. Princess canceled the remainder of the cruise over this past weekend.

“The newspaper reports that Princess Cruises did not mention or respond to inquiries about COVID-19 aboard its cruise ship which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists as having ‘orange status.'”

That means there are enough COVID-19 cases aboard to meet the threshold for a CDC investigation. The CDC launches a probe when least three per cent of passengers and crew aboard the ship have tested positive. Considering the Caribbean Princess had 1,600 passengers on board, this turns out to be at least around fifty infected guests, plus the number of infected crew members which the cruise line did not disclose either.

A guest informed the Times Colonist Princess Cruises “has been very tight-lipped.”

“People have been at the guest services desk demanding to know how many sick people and they won’t tell you anything,” she said. “They just say ‘oh, a certain bartender or waitress you have seen all week [is] feeling under the weather’ when you see that they are gone. The captain has not made any announcements.”

“They say they are going to dry dock early, but we all know it is COVID. They have not said this but we on the ship all believe this.”

The cruise line reportedly did not test all of the guests after cancelling the cruise and ordering everyone off the cruise ship, the Times Colonist reported.  “We showed up for our test and they said no tests,” a passengers stated. “So knowing they have COVID on the ship, instead of doing the responsible thing and testing all the guests going back to Canada, they are just disembarking all of us and sending us home, putting us in planes next to unsuspecting members of the public, instead of responsibly checking to see who caught COVID on their ship.”

The operator, Princess Cruises, and owner, Carnival Corporation, revealed their usual lack of transparency last week when another Princess cruise ship, the Ruby Princess, arrived in San Francisco after a fifteen day cruise with many dozens of passengers and crew positive with COVID-19, according to the Washington Post.

Princess claimed the infected passengers and crew were “asymptomatic or showed mild symptoms” but the cruise line refused to disclose the number of people tested who were positive or when they tested positive during the trip.

A third cruise ship, Princess’ flagship the Sky Princess, recently completed a transAtlantic cruise and arrived in London with several hundred passengers positive with COVID-19.

The Sky Princess had earlier been denied permission to dock in Havensight in the Virgin Islands, after surpassing the 3% COVID-19 positivity rate threshold. The Virgin Islands Daily News reported that “while the details of how high the positivity rate was aboard the Sky Princess were not released, the cruise ship itself has fallen into the so-called ‘orange’ category used by the CDC within its color-coding system for high-risk ships.”

A guest who left the ship in London informed us of this outbreak, and provided a clue to the number of infected guests on the Sky Princess:

“Just off Sky Princess transatlantic yesterday. Ship had 5 buses of Covid positive passengers sent to quarantine in London before returning home.”

He further explained that each of the five motor coaches contained “at least 100 passengers.”

The reality of these outbreaks on Princess fleet of ships comes at a time when the CDC dropped its travel health notice for cruise travel last week. According to USA Today, the removal of the CDC notice doesn’t mean the federal health agency considers cruise travel to be without risk – but signified that cruise travelers simply will have to make their own risk assessment.

Although COVID-19 cases have decreased in the United States, with a 7 percent drop in daily cases over the past week according to the Washington Post, a surge in cases in  Europe this month fueled by a subvariant of omicron called BA.2 has set the stage for another potential wave of outbreaks.

Given the failure and refusal of cruise lines under the Carnival Corporation umbrella to release accurate information when passengers and crew members on its cruise ships are infected at sea, it will remain difficult for even the best informed passenger to make a risk assessment whether it’s safe to travel by cruise ship.

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Photo credit: Sky Princess – Fincantieri.

April 5, 2022 Update:

KRON 4 in San Francisco reports:

“We all received a letter informing us of the positive cases for both passengers and the crew. The letter told us we had to start wearing KN95 masks in all areas of the ship.  Both inside and outside.  Previous to the letter, masks were not required.  In fact every room was delivered a packet with 2 masks to start wearing the day of the letter,” passenger Diana Duda said.

“Princess refused to let passengers know how many people were involved. Princess would not tell the crew anything because they were afraid the crew would notify passengers.  This information was relayed to us by different crew members,” Duda said.

We received these messages on our Facebook page from a guest on the Sky Princess:

“I was one of the COVID “patients” on the Sky Princess. Was whisked out of my room and into isolation within 30 minutes and stayed there, blocked in my room for the rest of the cruise. No medical staff on the 9th floor, only food delivery people: you could call room service or the front desk for your needs, which in some cases took hours to get a response to. No medical monitoring of guests other than maybe a phone call. 2 calls for me in 6 days even after I told them that I’m immunocompromised. As far as the numbers, the entire side of the 9th floor that I was on was filled. That’s 100 cabins, with one or two people in them. I was told that the other side was also being used, so my educated guess would be over 200 people were affected. As for the reports of the buses, Coach buses typically hold around 55 passengers. I was on the 2nd bus and we were told that there were 4 or 5 after us. That didn’t count the people who had left to go home in England, and isolate in their homes or other hotels. Also doesn’t count the people that tested positive on the ship, and were let go if they had a negative test after 5 days. The lack of a comprehensive and cohesive plan for the handling of Covid was criminal. I felt like I was in The Brig and worried every minute about what would happen if I got sicker. No two people gave you the same answer, and the “party line” changed every few hours. What a nightmare!”

“There was a blatant disregard for masking in required places onboard my cruise ending 4/3. And obvious reluctance to enforce mandated wearing. Our captain would only give a few very vague announcements regarding Covid on the ship. The isolation ward was quite full, unfortunately.”

April 19, 2022 Update:

April 23, 2022 Update: