The Carnival Vista returned to Roatan this morning. Tests of crew members on the ship indicated that sixteen (16) members were positive for COVID-19, according to a trusted source (a Carnival employee) on the ship.

A week ago, the Carnival cruise ship arrived in Roatan with 26 crew members who tested positive, based on the same source who wishes to remain anonymous. Read: Over Two Dozen Carnival Crew Members Infected With COVID-19 on Carnival Vista. The ship then sailed on to Belize where the infected count increased to twenty-seven (26 crew and one guest). Read: Positive COVID-19 Cases Increase to 27 as Carnival Vista Leaves Belize Heading for Cozumel.

As was the case a week ago, the infected Carnival ship employees included many crew members who work in departments which bring them in contact with guests on a daily basis.  Five crew members work in entertainment, three in guest services, and two in photo. Other crew members not interfacing with guests: – engine – 3, culinary services – 2  and auxiliary services – 1).

Carnival has taken the position that it will not release the actual number of positive COVID-19 cases on its ships.

This information is important and necessary for guests on Carnival cruise ships to evaluate their own health and safety and consider the risks on these ships.

I currently do not have information regarding the number, if any, of infected guests on the ship at this time.

Let’s see if the tourism people in the next port, Belize, release another press report summarizing the number of infected guests and crew members.

Last week, the Belize Tourism Board issued a press release touting Carnival’s safety. Of course the tourism board is just that – a group of marketers interested in doing business with a large cruise line here in the U.S.  It obviously is  not a public health entity with infectious disease doctors, epidemiologists and public health experts.  There was a great deal of discussion from the local resident of Belize about whether it was prudent to allow tourists off of the Carnival ship on shore excursions.  Here is the reporting from a local news station in Belize, News 7 Belize, and comments protesting of the arrival of the COVID-19 infected cruise ship by the local community in Belize.

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Image credit: Carnival Vista – CNN.

A passenger who sailed aboard the Carnival Vista to Belize, who was infected with COVID-19 on the cruise ship and then abandoned by Carnival in that foreign port, recently died after she eventually returned to the U.S.

A Retired Sunday School Teacher On Her First Trip Outside of the U.S.

Marilyn Tackett, a retired Sunday school teacher, age 77, from Oklahoma, sailed from Galveston, Texas on the Carnival Vista on July 31, 2021 with her family. It was her first cruise and trip outside of the U.S. The cruise left from Galveston and sailed to ports in the Caribbean, including Roatan and Belize.  When the Carnival ship reached Roatan on August 3, 2021, Ms. Tackett went ashore on an excursion (photo right from Go Fund Me page). The next day, the Carnival Vista sailed to Belize. Although she was vaccinated, Ms. Tackett did not feel well and declined to go on the excursion which her grown children had chosen. When they returned to the ship, her children noticed that Ms. Tachett was having great difficulty breathing. They summoned the ship doctor who administered a COVID test which was positive. The doctor informed the family that she needed to be on a ventilator, and then arranged for Ms. Tackett to be transferred to a hospital in Belize.

The hospital demanded a payment from her family of $5,000 before it would admit her to the hospital. After a delay, the hospital then admitted her to an intensive care unit and placed her on a ventilator.

Ms. Tackett’s insurance company did not cover medical care outside of the U.S. or the emergency flight back home. On August 6th, her granddaughter created a Go Fund Me page for her grandmother, who she called MeMaw, to try and raise $30,000 in order for Ms. Tackett to be medically evacuated by air to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

An air ambulance eventually flew Ms. Tachett back to Oklahoma and she was admitted to an intensive care and again placed on a ventilator.  After a few days of struggling in the hospital, she died on August 14th.

Some of this information was posted on a Carnival roll-call for this particular cruise (photo left)(with readable text below left), although the original posing on Facebook has now been deleted.

Carnival Cruise Line Falsely Claimed That It Was handling Only A “Small Amount” of COVID-19 Cases on the Carnival Vista

The Carnival Vista reportedly had a number of positive COVID-19 cases during this cruise, according to the Galveston Daily News which was the first newspaper to report on COVID-19 cases on the ship. However, Carnival Cruise Line refused to state the exact number of infected guests, admitting only that a “small number of people” on board tested positive. Carnival repeated this innocuous statement to newspapers in Houston when it said just a “small number” of passengers tested positive for COVID-19 mid-week. One newspaper reported that “it’s unclear . . .  how severe their symptoms were.”

Later, Carnival repeated this  misleading statement when it became public information that as many as 27 people on the Carnival Vista (26 crew and one guest) had tested positive for COVID-19. It stated only that “we are managing a small number of COVID cases on board Vista,” according to a USA Today article. Of course, in truth, Carnival was obviously aware that they transferred, ashore to Belize, a very ill passenger in need of oxygen and the use of a ventilator. So the suggestion that Carnival was somehow “managing COVID cases on the cruise ship,” when this guest who the cruise line abandoned was struggling to breath due to COVID-19 in a hospital in Belize, is patently false.

Ms. Tachett’s death raises substantial issues regarding the public disclosure of COVID-19 cases on cruise ships. There is no legal requirement for either the CDC or the cruise lines to disclose the number of COVID-19 cases on cruise ships. All the CDC does is to disclose the color status (green, orange, or yellow) which simply acknowledges whether a particular ship has had at least one positive COVID-19 case in the last week.  The Sun Sentinel recently published an article titled 27 cruise ships have reported COVID-19 infections. Why can’t we find out how many?  I argued that “consumers and the communities where cruise ships operate have a right to know how many infected crew members and passengers are aboard each voyage (especially with the new and highly contagious ascendant Delta virus). No one is being forthcoming with basic information about how many people are in fact infected. It seems to me that the CDC should be disclosing the numbers and requiring cruise lines to be transparent, in the interest of health and guest safety.”

Carnival continues to falsely state that it had “a small number” of cases onboard the Carnival Vista when, in reality it had at least 26 crew members and an unknown number infected guests, including one guest (Ms. Tachert) who it abandoned in Belize and who later died.

On Friday, a Carnival spokesman responded to the Sun Sentinel’s request for infection counts from each of Carnival’s voyages this summer by stating “we are not reporting specific numbers.”

The fact at least 26 crew members on the Carnival Vista were infected with COVID-19 was not publicly known until a confidential source informed me of the outbreak before the case reached Roatan (read, Over Two Dozen Carnival Crew Members Infected With COVID-19 on Carnival Vista) and, later, when the Belize Tourism Board (not Carnival) released a press release. Important health issues affecting the U.S. public should not first be made public with a spin by a foreign tourism board eager to do business with a U.S. based cruise company, but from a public health organization with a staff of infectious disease doctors, epidemiologists and public health experts.

A memorial service is scheduled for Ms. Tackett for this Thursday, August 19, 2021.

This Is Not The Fist Death From COVID-19 on a Carnival Cruise Ship This Summer

This is not the first COVID-19-related death connected to a Carnival Cruise Line ship this summer. In June, a well liked Carnival chief engineer, Angelo Strano, died from COVID-19, dies from COVID-19, Officer Stano had worked for Carnival for thirty-four and one-half years after starting his career with Carnival in December 1986. To date, Carnival has failed to even acknowledge his untimely death.

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Credit: Marilyn Tackett (Rest in Peace) – Shipman Funeral Home: In Roatan – Go Fund Me; Carnival roll-call postings – Facebook.

Update: The popular Royal Caribbean Blog published an article which shows the compassionate way that Royal Caribbean/Celebrity Cruises have chosen to handle this type of situation, where the company has flown infected guests from Caribbean islands via private jets. Read: Royal Caribbean is flying passengers home on a private jet if they have Covid-19.

August 23, 2021 Update:

The national media is finally catching up with this story on the Carnival Vista, with the Washington Post, Axios, and the New York Times belatedly covering the story.
By the Washington Post:
“A passenger aboard a Carnival Cruise Line ship that left from Galveston, Tex., in late July has died.
Marilyn Tackett, a 77-year-old Oklahoman, died this month after contracting the coronavirus. She was among the 27 reported positive cases aboard the cruise line, one of the highest number of publicly recorded cases on a ship sailing from the United States since cruises restarted this summer . . .
Tackett was looking forward to taking her first trip abroad when she set sail across the ocean, but her experience was interrupted with a coronavirus diagnosis that caused her to be put on a ventilator in Belize, according to a GoFundMe page created by one of her grandchildren.
She was transported back to Tulsa on Aug. 6 and received treatment until her death just eight days later, according to her family.
‘Memaw fought as long as she could,’ the family said in a statement. ‘To know she’s reunited with lost loved ones and that she’s basking in The Lord’s presence now is a huge comfort.’
Tackett’s family did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Carnival Cruise Line told The Washington Post in a statement that it was sad to hear about Tackett’s death but also said that it was unlikely that she had contracted the virus aboard its ship.”
By Axios:

“The Carnival Vista saw the biggest outbreak of coronavirus cases since cruises resumed in the U.S. and Caribbean last June, with 27 people testing positive for COVID-19 after sailing out from Galveston, Texas, in late July and early August, per the New York Times.

  • One of those passengers later died of the virus in an Oklahoma hospital, though Carnival spokesperson Chris Chiames said in an emailed statement to Axios that the woman ‘almost certainly did not contract COVID on our ship.'”

By the New York Times:

“Over two weeks in late July and early August, 27 coronavirus infections were identified aboard the Carnival Vista cruise ship sailing out of Galveston, Texas.

One of those infected, a passenger, later died.

It was the highest number of cases aboard a ship reported since June, when cruises restarted in the Caribbean and United States, and the first death.

. . . The cruise line said that it was highly unlikely Ms. Tackett contracted the coronavirus aboard the ship . . . ”

Ms. Tackett boarded the ship on July 31st and had her first symptoms on August 3rd. It is well established by the CDC that COVID-19 symptoms can begin as early as two days after exposure.
Carnival’s PR people first said that it was managing a “small number” of cases. Then newspapers accurately reported that the Carnival Vista was experiencing “one of the highest number of publicly recorded cases on a ship sailing from the United States since cruises restarted this summer.”
It’s no wonder that Carnival’s PR people now dispute that she was infected on its ship.

A reader just sent me a YouTube video by cruise vloggers Dee and Jay who operate the popular ParoDeeJay YouTube page. Dee and Jay went on a cruise on the Carnival Mardi Gras last week and Dee began experiencing symptoms (which she described as a tickly throat, fever and an “icky feeling”). She was given a PCR test on the ship (Jay was given an antigen test) and she tested positive for COVID19 during the cruise. In the video posted this morning, she says that she wants to stay “as positive as possible” and the symptoms were “not terrible.” She subsequently lost her taste and smell. And her treatment included receiving oxygen.

They were in the middle of preparing videos which they called the “Mardi Gras Cruise” series and which they abruptly suspended.

During self-quantaine in their cabin, they say that getting infected on a cruise is “kinda the new normal” like getting the virus at “Walmart or a grocery store.”

Jay states that they are both vaccinated “but COVID is out there . . . it’s something that we have to deal with.” He continues: “. . . and the point of the vaccination is that it’s gonna make I guess an easier time to deal with and you’re not gonna be as symptomatic or as spreading or you know it’s not as dangerous necessarily . . . “

I’m not sure that I agree with the conclusions of these well-liked cruise vloggers but that’s what they are saying.

The vloggers don’t mention whether there was any contact tracing which might have (and should have) occurred following her infection. I understand that there were other vloggers and bloggers on the cruise who they enjoyed time with during their back-to-back cruises on the Mardi Gras. The Mardi Gras has a capacity of around 5,000-6,000 passengers, so if it was operating at 60-70 capacity, then there were well over 3,000 guests on the ship during their cruise.  And if this infection involved the highly contagious Delta variant, the R0 (pronounced “R naught”) (the mathematical term that indicates how contagious the infectious disease is) is as high as “7” or  “8.”  The virus on the Diamond Princess had a R0 of  only “2.”

It also debatable that you are as likely to get infected in a Walmart or a grocery store as on a cruise ship. Most people don’t spend more than 45 minutes in a grocery store compared to spending as long as one week (168 hours) on a cruise ship with several thousands of crew members and other guests eating and drinking non-stop. The video also ignores the reality, as federal district court judge Kathleen Williams recently ruled (in the NCL versus State of Florida lawsuit),  “scientific research shows that cruise lines are hotbeds for COVID-19 transmission.” This is not of course what cruise fans want to hear.

In any event, we hope Dee recovers from her infection and that her partner stays safe.

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Image credit: Carnival Mardi Gras – kees torn – CC BY-SA 2.0 commons / wikimedia.

Video credit: ParoDeeJay YouTube Page

The number of positive COVID-19 aboard the Carnival Vista increased to 27 today as the cruise ship disembarked passengers ashore in the port of Belize City.  In addition to the 26 crew members who were infected and are in quarantine when the ship arrived in Roatan, which we reported on yesterday, a passenger also tested positive today.

Prior to the arrival of the Carnival cruise ship in Belize, the tourism officials in Belize, including the Minister of Tourism, together with the Belize Tourism Board, met virtually with officers on the Carnival Vista yesterday to discuss the positive COVID-19 cases on the ship. Thereafter the tourism board release a press release which included this information:

  • Crew are 99.98% vaccinated;
  • Passengers are 96.5% vaccinated;
  • All crew members who have tested positive are in isolation;
  • All persons who have tested positive are vaccinated, most are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms;
  • Contact tracing has been completed (including 400+ tests done on Saturday, 300+ tests done yesterday, and 200+ more done today) which did not reveal additional positive findings; and
  • Additional protocols have been put in place including increased mask wearing indoors, use of N95 Masks by crew, crew social areas have been closed, and as early as the next departure, all guests will require a negative rapid test, regardless of whether they are vaccinated.

The Belize tourism team then concluded (in the press release) that the 26 infected crew members and one passenger “do not pose a threat to guests, crew or frontline workers in Belize.” The board stated that “passengers will be allowed to disembark in Belize and conduct shore excursions as per normal.”

The local tourism pers onnel were effusive in its praise of Carnival, writing that “cruise lines have been sailing globally throughout the pandemic, and in July, resumed sailing in the Western Caribbean and Belize. The lines have maintained an exceptional safety record, and with the extensive protocols in place, it is arguably one of the safest ways to travel today, amidst the pandemic.”

Aside from these self-serving conclusions by the tourism personnel, it does not appear that any medical, epidemiology or infectious disease experts in Belize weighed in on the decision to permit cruise passengers ashore from a ship with at least 27 people infected with a deadly virus.

As we discussed yesterday, Belize has a local protocol which states that cruise passengers are not  allowed to disembark if the total number of positive cases exceeds 2% of the ship’s capacity. The Belize Tourism Board stated in a separate press release on Facebook that the ship had “2895 guests and 1441 crew on board.  2% of this total (4,336 crew and guests) is around 86 people.

Of particular interest from this press release is the statement that Carnival performed contact tracing of over 400 crew members on Saturday (the day that the cruise ship left Galveston).. This information is consistent with the fact that as many as 23 crew members tested positive for COVID-19 at some point on Saturday, based on the information which we received on that day. This raises the issue whether Carnival was being transparent when the cruise line disclosed only that a “small number” of guests were infected on the prior cruise. Carnival did not disclose to the press (and apparently not to the CDC)  that any crew members were infected last Saturday, nor does it appear that Carnival ever disclosed to their cruise passengers on the ship (or to the public) that crew members on the ship were infected.

As we explained yesterday, the 26 Carnival crew members who are infected for COVID-19 involve employees from the following departments on the ship: casino department -10 (including casino manager), restaurant and restaurant services department – 4, entertainment – 4 , guest services – 2, photo – 2, housekeeping – 1, and beverage – 1. (The job positions of two crew members were not specified). As one reader of this blog commented – “How does one conduct thorough contact tracing of all close contacts of a casino manager?”

The Carnival Vista is now sailing to Cozumel where it is scheduled to arrive early tomorrow morning. It is unclear whether the local tourism or health departments in that city in Mexico will release information regarding the continuing disease outbreak on the Carnival ship.  The Carnival Vista will return to Galveston on Saturday.

The CDC’s color code system continues to show a “yellow” designation for the ship with the notation that the CDC has investigated and the ship remains under observation.  It should be noted that the CDC has exactly this designation and notation when Carnival was still claiming that the ship had only a “small number” of infected guests aboard the ship last week.

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Image credit: Carnival Corporation via Galveston.com

August 12, 2021 Update: I received this message from a guest on the Carnival Vista last night:

“I’m on Carnival Vista as a passenger now. We haven’t been told of any infections. As we docked at Belize, the cruise director did say the Belize authorities overnight decided to conduct random tests of people leaving the ship and asked us to cooperate should we be asked to test. I didn’t see any random tests occurring. Every crew member is masked all the time. Some are double masked. Passengers are not as diligent.”

The outbreak was finally covered by a major newspaper today,. USA Today published 27 people on board Carnival Cruise Line ship test positive for COVID-19 which basically regurgitates the information regarding the outbreak until Belize.  There has been no update which I am aware of since leaving Belize (the ship is currently in Cozumel today). The Carnival Vista remains schedule to return to Galveston on Saturday.

August 13, 2021 Update: 

I received this message from a guest on the ship: “The statement from Carnival spokesperson AnneMarie Matthews in the USA Today article is misleading. There has been NO mention of any Covid outbreak on the ship. No mention of any Covid outbreak in the statements by the captain and all statements by the cruise director. All activities have gone on as planned.”

Another major newspaper, the Washington Post, covers the outbreak today. The Post rightfully states that “the outbreak is among the highest number of publicly reported cases on a ship sailing from the United States since cruises restarted this summer.”

I received a message from another quest on the ship this evening:

“I’m onboard the Carnival Vista now. And as if 8 pm on Friday we as passengers have not heard a thing about cases. But i have noticed the crew being more and more diligent about mask wearing. I asked guest services on board if the report is true and they said they had no knowledge of these positive tests that are being reported.”

Here is the reporting from a local news station in Belize, News 7 Belize, and comments protesting of the arrival of the COVID-19 infected cruise ship by the local community in Belize.

 

There are currently over two dozen crew members on the Carnival Vista who tested positive for COVID-19, according to two sources who prefer to remain anonymous. A total of twenty-six ship employees on the Carnival Vista reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.  This morning, the Carnival cruise ship called on port in Mahogany Bay, Roatan Island, Honduras.

The Carnival cruise ship departed from Galveston, Texas on Saturday, August 7th after a cruise last week when an unspecified number of guests tested positive for the virus. Carnival released a statement regarding the prior cruise, admitting that a “small number” of cruise passengers tested positive for COIVD-19.  Carnival thereafter made a decision to implement a policy that all guests on the cruise ship are now required to wear masks.  We reported on the positive guest cases last week after learning of the tests results from the Galveston Daily News. Carnival refused to state the actual number of guests infected with COVID-19.

We were initially told that there were twenty-three (23) crew members who tested positive for COVID-19 on the Carnival Vista as of last Saturday afternoon (August 7th) but the number increased to twenty-six (26) as of today. It it less than clear when the first crew members tested positive.

The 26 Carnival crew members who reportedly are infected for COVID-19 involve employees from the following departments on the ship: casino department -10 (including casino manager), restaurant and restaurant services department – 4, entertainment – 4 , guest services – 2, photo – 2, housekeeping – 1, and beverage – 1. The job positions of two crew members were not specified.

The infected crew members are reportedly quarantined in their cabins. We have no information regarding contact tracing of these ship employees’ close contacts.

Carnival Cruise Line has not yet responded to our inquiries whether any of the infected crew are symptomatic or require medical treatment, nor has it provided a statement of any kind to our firm at this time.

The cruise line provided a press release to local newspaper in Houston last weekend admitting only that a “small number” of guests were infected.  Carnival stated that “all our crew and almost all of our guests” are vaccinated. It also stated that “we have a process in place to randomly test a large percentage of our crew every day.”

The CDC’s color code status report shows that a yellow color for the Carnival Vista since last week, signifying that the CDC started an investigation into COVID-19 on the ship. The CDC does not state the number of shipboard infections or details of its shipboard investigations.

Last Sunday, federal district court Judge Kathleen Williams granted Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ motion for preliminary injunction against the State of Florida holding that “scientific research shows that cruise lines are hotbeds for COVID-19 transmission.”

The Carnival cruise ship will leave Roatan this evening. It is is scheduled to arrive in Belize City tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. It remains scheduled to call on Cozumel on Thursday and return back to Galveston on Saturday.

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Image credit: Carnival Vista -Gordon Leggett / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia; AIS data – MarineTraffic.

August 10, 2021 Update:

A local newspaper in Belize published this article raising the issue why a U.S. based cruise ship is allowed to sail guests from a cruise ship infected with COVID-19 to Belize

August 11, 2021 Update:

The Carnival Vista continues its week long cruise after sailing from Roatan to Belize where it arrived this morning with twenty-six crew members infected with COVID-19 aboard. Carnival continues to refuse to state whether the crew members are symptomatic and/or require medical treatment.

The Belize Tourism Board ” Safe Restart of Cruise Operations in Belize” protocol says cruise ship disembarkation will not be permitted if a ship has more than 2% of passenger/crew positive for COVID.

My question is how many guests and crew members are on the Carnival ship on this particular cruise? (I realize that normally the capacity for this ship is nearly 4,000 guests and around 1,4000 crew).

The ship will sail to Cozumel tomorrow before returning to Galveston on Saturday. We are not aware of any positive cases involving guests on this particular cruise yet, although all CCL ships (including the Vista) sailing from U.S. ports are designated yellow or orange per the CDC.

Further Update August 11, 2021: 

Positive COVID-19 Cases Increase to 27 as Carnival Vista Leaves Belize Heading for Cozumel

Yesterday evening, Miami federal district court judge Kathleen Williams granted Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ motion for preliminary injunction in its lawsuit filed against Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees in July challenging Florida’s vaccine passports ban.

Florida prohibited businesses in Florida from requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccine as a prerequisite for engaging the services of the business. Governor DeSantis has been roundly criticized for the ban which has been viewed as a stunt by the politically motivated governor to appeal to his base of MAGA supporters of the former disgraced ex-president.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings issued a press release Sunday night which stated that the cruise line can now “operate in the safest way possible with 100% vaccination of all guests and crew when sailing from Florida ports.”

You can read the 59 page order in its entirety here.

The ruling was widely reported by the press, including the Miami Herald, Axios and the New York Times.

Judge Williams ruled that Florida failed to “provide a valid evidentiary, factual, or legal predicate” for the ban. The judge also ruled that “scientific research shows that cruise lines are hotbeds for COVID-19 transmission” and that Norwegian “has demonstrated that public health will be jeopardized if it is required to suspend its vaccination requirement.”

Axios noted that DeSantis has blamed the spike on a “seasonal pattern” and “media hysteria,” which are typical talking points which appeal to anti-vaxxers and the MAGA crowd.

COVID-19 cases are currently surging across Florida. DeSantis has largely ignored the medical reality and has bandied around vague notions of “personal freedom” and criticized the Centers for Disease Control an Prevention (CDC) and Dr. Fauci at every opportunity. He has refused to enter a mask mandate as schools in Florida are preparing to open.

I have been critical of NCLH CEO Frank Del Rio over the years. But he has demonstrated a principled attack on Governor DeSantis’ irresponsible and reckless disregard of the cruising public’s health and safety.

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Image Credit: Coolcaesar at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Last night, the Galveston Daily News reported that the Carnival Vista had a number of positive COVID-19 cases aboard the cruise ship which sailed from Galveston, Texas. However, Carnival Cruise Line refused to state the exact number of infected guests, admitting only that a “small number of people” on board tested positive.

The reporter who wrote the article, Keri Heath, commented that after the outbreak, Carnival made a decision to implement a policy that all guests on the cruise ship are now required to wear masks.

Carnival announced no plans to cancel or alter the cruise.

Around 100 Guests and Crew Members Have Tested Positive for COVID-19 in Last 30 Days

There have been a steady number of cruise ships recently where guests and/or crew members have tested positive for COVID-19. In the five weeks since July 1st, there have been around 100 positive COVID-19 cases on cruise ships:

Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas (4 crew members), Adventure of the Seas (6 guests), Odyssey of the Seas (13 crew members), Independence of the Seas (10 crew members), Jewel of the Seas (6 crew members); Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Millennium (2 guests) and Celebrity Edge (7 guests); Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth (a “small number” of crew members); MSC Grandiosa (2 guests); Phoenix Resien’s M/S Amera (12 crew members); UnCruise Adventures’ Wilderness Explorer (four passengers and three crew members);  (1 guest and 2 crew members); Dream Cruises’ World Dream (1 guest); Viking Cruises’ Viking Sky (1 guest) and Viking Jupiter (1 guest). In addition, at least thirty-five passengers and/or crew members have tested positive on cruise ships designated as either orange or yellow on the CDC’s color tracking chart.

A small couple of positive COVID cases on one ship, a few on another ship, five to eight cases on another and as many as twelve or more cases on some ships – this will be the pattern as long as cruise lines continue to resume operations during a pandemic. The news accounts will mention the positive cases but will invariably stop short of explaining whether the symptomatic guests require medical treatment, or how they respond to medical intervention and/or whether they fully recover, unlike an officer of Carnival Cruise Line who died of COVID last month.

The Miami Herald’s Taylor Dolven recently reported that one in three cruise ships (operating or about to sail into U.S. waters) have passengers and/or crew members aboard who are infected with COVID-19.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases on cruise ships has increased since Ms. Dolven’s tweet (above)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently show that Carnival Cruise Line has seven (7) cruise ships which the CDC is monitoring (orange) or investigating (yellow). The CDC has assigned a yellow code to the Carnival Breeze, Carnival Horizon, Carnival Mardi Gras, Carnival Miracle, and Carnival Vista and is investigating all of these ships for COVID-19. The CDC assigned a orange code to the Carnival Panorama and Carnival Sunshine and is monitoring these ships for COVID.  The CDC assigned yellow codes for other cruise ships owned by Carnival Corporation, including the Coral Princess, Grand Princess and Ruby Princess operated by Princess Cruises and the Nieuw Statendam operated by Holland America Line (HAL).  The Majesty Princess operated by Princess and the Koningsdam operated by HAL both have been designated orange. In total, thirteen (13) cruise ships owned by Carnival Corporation are under monitoring or investigation for COVID-19 by the CDC.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH)’s Norwegian Encore and the Oceania Regatta are under investigation by the CDC for COVID-19 aboard these two ships.

Royal Caribbean owns ten (10) ships which are under monitoring (orange) or investigation (yellow) by the CDC. There are three Royal Caribbean owned ships operated by Celebrity Cruises under investigation for COVI by the CDC: the Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Millennium.   The Serenade of the Seas is under investigation for COVID. The CDC is monitoring the Explorer of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas  and Ovation of the Seas.

The CDC is Monitoring or Investigating Twenty-Five out of Sixty-Four Cruise Ships In U.S. Waters for COVID-19 

In total, the CDC is monitoring or investigating twenty-five cruise ships in U.S. waters for COVID-19, which is around 40% of the total of sixty-four cruise ship operating or about to sail into U.S. waters.  Of course, this total does not include ships outside of U.S. waters where the CDC does not have jurisdiction.  Aside from occasional coverage by non-U.S. newspapers, there is no centralized data base keeping track of COVID-19 outbreaks on ships sailing from foreign ports in international waters.

On July 28th, before the Carnival Vista sailed on its current cruise, a reporter for the Galveston Daily News, commented that all three cruise ships sailing from Galveston, including the Carnival Vista were either being monitored or investigated by the CDC for COVID-19.

Assuming that those sailing on the Carnival Vista were aware of and reviewed the CDC tracking system, it should have come as no surprise that this particular cruise ship is now the subject of unwanted media attention.

The Carnival Vista – A “Small Number of People” Infected?

It is less than candid for Carnival Cruise Line to state that a “small number of people” are infected on the ship without specifying the actual number of those infected. Another Carnival brand, Cunard, also said that only a “small number” of crew members tested positive for COVID-19 last month on the Queen Elizabeth cruise liner.

Carnival is obviously trying to avoid a situation where the number or positive COVID-19 cases increases, and news accounts subsequently report the updated information and keep the story circulating. This was the situation where the German Cruise Ship M/s Amera initially had an outbreak which was initially reported to involve five cases, then nine cases and eventually twelve cases.

In order for consumers to have a reasonable and accurate sense of which cruise ships have active COVID-19 cases aboard them, families deciding to cruise during a deadly pandemic should, at a minimum, consult with the CDC and see if their ship has been designated either orange or yellow.   But additional information is needed on the CDC’s website, including whether those infected had been vaccinated, whether they were asymptomatic when tested, whether they recovered or ended up hospitalized or died due to their infection.

In my experience, it is too much to ever expect a cruise line to be forthcoming with relevant shipboard disease information that might affect their business interests, especially when some cruise companies are being coy with basic information such as the number of infected guests and crew. My suggestion is to stay current with news coverage from leading newspapers which routinely cover the cruise industry like the Miami Herald, USA Today, or the Washington Post.

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Image Credit: Top – Carnival VistaGordon Leggett / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia;  bottom – Carnival Vista stern – ABC-13 Eyewitness News Carnival managing ‘small number’ of positive COVID cases on board cruise ship.

Today, a half-dozen passengers  on the Adventure of the Seas tested positive for COVID-19. The  ship is one of several dozens of cruise ships with either passengers or crew members who have tested positive for COVID-19.  The Miami Herald covered the story (by Taylor Dolven).  USA TODAY published an article by Morgan Hines who is aboard the ship.

On Thursday, the six passengers on the Adventure of the Seas tested positive for the virus. The positive test occurred at the end of the week-long, round-trip cruise which left Nassau last Saturday. The Herald indicated that “four of the positive passengers are vaccinated and are traveling separately. Two of the positive passengers are unvaccinated and traveling together.”

The Royal Caribbean ship stopped in Cozumel, Mexico and the cruise line’s private Bahamian island before arriving in Freeport today.

Adventure of the Seas is one of dozens of cruise ships with COVID-19 on board. As reported by the Herald, “one in three ocean cruise ships operating in U.S. waters or planning to come into U.S. waters soon have reported a COVID-19 case on board in the last seven days, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nine of the 21 ships that have reported COVID-19 cases have passengers on board.”

Over a month ago, we reported that two passengers, both under the age of 16 and unvaccinated, tested positive while on Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas. On June 25th, we reported that at least nineteen other people on cruise ships owed by Royal Caribbean have tested positive in the last 30 days:

  • 13 crew members on the Odyssey of the Seas on March 24th and June 10th;
  • 4 crew members on the Anthem of the Seas on June 20th; and
  • 2 passengers on the Celebrity Millennium, owned by Royal Caribbean, who tested positive on June 10th.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s color coded status system shows seven cruise ships operated by Royal Caribbean, with either orange or yellow designations, indicating the presence of COVID-19, including the Allure of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, and Serenade of the Seas.

The outbreaks occurring  on the Royal Caribbean ships are mirroring COVID outbreaks ashore, including vaccinated people who have breakthrough infections. It is less than clear how many of the shipboard outbreaks involve the highly contagious Delta variant which has been permitted to mutate due to the large number of people who refuse to become vaccinated.

The Herald article point out that:

“Florida is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases as many people eligible for the vaccine have still not been vaccinated.

On Wednesday, Florida recorded its fourth highest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began 16 months ago, reporting 17,589 new cases to the CDC.”

A particularly ominous development is the fact that vaccinated people who contract the COVID-19 Delta variant can spread the virus just as easily as unvaccinated people, according to the CDC.

The optimism that vaccinations would permit cruising to return to “normal” has evaporated and replaced with the reality that selfish anti-vaxxers, aided by the likes of Florida Governor DeSantis prohibiting cruise lines from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccinations, have permitted the virus to mutate into the Delta variant which is now being reported as contagious as chickenpox.

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Top – Adventure of the Seas – Master0Garfield –  CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

A passenger on a Celebrity cruise to Alaska tested positive for COVID-19 last Sunday, according to Celebrity Cruises. Fox Business reports that a “fully vaccinated passenger” on the Celebrity Millennium reported to the cruise ship infirmary last weekend and complained of what is described as “cold-like symptoms.” The guest subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, the cruise line said in a statement yesterday.

The person was initially isolated in the ship’s medical facility for monitoring and then received “private air transportation” to the guest’s home state. The company said it performed contact tracing and tested the person’s close contacts, who were all negative for the virus.

The fact that the cruise guest was fully vaccinated and still contracted COIVD will be used by anti-vaxxers to suggest that there is no benefit to being vaccinated. Of course, the people who are vaccinated are unlikely to develop serious symptoms and are highly unlikely to require hospitalizations or intensive medical care involving ventilators. The vast majority of people who require hospitalization or end up dying due to COVID-19 are those who decide not to become vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Maritime Executive reports that small cruise ship operator UnCruise Adventures reported that it cancelled the upcoming cruise on the Wilderness Explorer.  During last week’s cruise, the company reported that seven people (four passengers and three crew members) tested positive for COVID-19. KRBD reports that UnCruise owner and CEO Dan Blanchard says the seven positive individuals had “mild, cold-like symptoms.”

A UnCruise representative said the operator identified the seven positive cases “starting July 23.” KRBD reported that the company “says it’s the first time a fully vaccinated guest has tested positive for the disease on its ships.”

The passengers reportedly were quarantined in a hotel in Juneau and the crew members were isolated aboard the cruise ship. KRBD reported that UnCruise suggested that positive cases involved the Delta variant.

Juneau officials reported another positive COVID-19 case on the American Constellation. That ship previously had an outbreak involving 16 passengers earlier this year.

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Image Credit: Top – Celebrity Millennium – IanKAus – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

Twelve crew members on the German cruise ship M/S Amera are now infected with COVID-19, according to an employee of the operator (Phoenix Resien) who wishes to remain anonymous. The German cruise ship remains in the port of Bremerhaven.

As we previously reported, five crew members tested positive for coronavirus on July 2oth.  The number increased on July 21, to nine, with the health department of Bremerhaven expecting additional positive cases.

The ship is still scheduled to cruise with passengers on August 3rd.

The source of the information is critical of the sanitation on the ship and the absence of health and safety protocols.  There are reportedly “dirty cups and plates in the crew corridors . . . crew members are playing table tennis on the ship without masks . . . the medical and water certificates expired since last year.”

Crew members of the Amera ship are in quarantine. There are forty-four crew members on a bus heading for Hannover. The Amera will then be disinfected. The plan, reportedly, is to bring crew members from the M/V Artania onboard the Amera.

The trend of coronavirus cases is significantly increasing in Bremen and Bremerhaven, notwithstanding  fact that the percentage of Germans vaccinated (over 60%) is higher than in the U.S. (less than 50%).

The M/S Amera previously sailed as the Prinsendam (photo, right) for Holland America Line (HAL) for nearly two decades.

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Image credits: Top – HenSti – CC BY-SA 4.0 commons / wikimedia; Bottom – Pjotr Mahhonin – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.