Last Friday, December 2nd, a number of newspapers in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) reported on the COVID-19-related death of a cruise passenger in St. Thomas.
The Virgin Islands Consortium reported that “a critically ill cruise ship passenger needed emergency care shortly before arriving in St. Thomas. Upon arrival the individual was taken to the Schneider Regional Medical Center but later succumbed to the illness.
The newspaper further reported that the cruise guest was transported to the hospital from the WICO (West Indies dock) dock on November, 29.
None of the newspapers disclosed which cruise ship the infected guest arrived on, nor the number of infected passengers or crew members on the cruise ship. No cruise line, of course, admitted to the infection leading to the death of their customer during the cruise.
It appears that three cruise ships called on St. Thomas (and ported at the WICO facility) on November 29th: NCL’s Norwegian Escape (photo right), Princess Cruises’ Sky Princess (photo below) and Silversea Cruises’ Silver Moon.
NCL lifted its ban on unvaccinated passengers in early September with NCL CEO Del Rio touting that easing vaccine and testing protocols would “expand the addressable cruise market.” All other cruise lines relaxed their vaccination and testing requirements as well. Not surprisingly, cruise ships sailing to the Caribbean with 3,000 to 4,000 passengers typically have an average of several hundred passengers infected with COVID-19. With over 8,000 people potentially ashore on November 29th, there were undoubtedly many cruise infected guests who visited the island.
The exact number of infected cruise guests / crew members on the Norwegian Escape (4,248 guests), Sky Princess (3,560 guests), and Silver Moon (596 guests) when these cruise ships arrived in St. Thomas on November 29th is not publicly known.
The U.S. Virgin Islands, which has a relatively low death total due to COVID-19 of just 125, made a point of stressing that the dead cruise guest was not infected in the territory and therefore would not be included in the official COVID statistics.
It was just a year ago that the Disney Fantasy called on the West Indies Co. dock in St. Thomas but the port authority did not permit anyone to disembark because there were positive COVID-19 cases aboard the cruise ship. As of March of this year, the Virgin Islands health commission did not permit cruise ships, with active COVID cases exceeding a 3% threshold, to disembark in the islands (cruise lines were requesting a 4 percent infection rate).
The St. Thomas Source covered this latest story, writing “the latest death is a reminder that the COVID-19 virus remains a threat despite the relaxation of masking and distancing mandates, and the department continues to encourage the public to become fully vaccinated and boosted.”
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Photo credit: St. Thomas Source “125th COVID-Related Death Confirmed by Health Department;” Norwegian Escape – kees torn – SA 2.0 commons / wikimedia; Sky Princess antonio -, CC BY 2.0 commons / wikimedia.