Carnival Cruise Passenger Dies of Covid Amid Uptick in Cases


The New York Times 23 August, 2021 - 05:05pm 26 views

The passenger and 26 crew members aboard the Carnival Vista tested positive for the coronavirus and the passenger later died. The company says its protocols successfully stopped further spread.

As the highly contagious Delta variant surges across the world, the health and safety protocols established for cruise ships are being put to the test. 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 passenger and 26 crew members were immediately isolated after testing positive for the virus. Contact tracing and further testing was conducted, with no new cases reported by Aug. 11, when the ship arrived at the port of Belize City on the northeastern coast of Central America, Carnival said.

Though the ship sailed out of Texas, which bans businesses from requiring vaccinations, more than 96 percent of passengers were vaccinated and all but one crew member was fully vaccinated, according to the Belize tourism board.

Most infected crew members were either asymptomatic or experienced mild symptoms of the virus, but Marilyn Tackett, a 77-year-old passenger from Oklahoma, was admitted to the hospital in Belize and put on a ventilator after experiencing respiratory complications. Days later, she was evacuated to a hospital in Tulsa where she received treatment, but on Aug. 14 her condition worsened, and she died, according to a statement issued by her family on a crowdfunding page set up to help pay for her care.

Ms. Tackett’s family declined to comment on the incident.

“We are very sorry to hear about the death of a guest who sailed on Carnival Vista,” the Carnival Cruise Line said in a statement. The cruise line said that it was highly unlikely Ms. Tackett contracted the coronavirus aboard the ship, which left Galveston on July 31, and that she had received expert medical care onboard before being evacuated.

The cruise line did not test vaccinated passengers before they embarked for the cruise.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new advisory, warning people with increased risk for severe illness from Covid-19 to avoid travel on cruise ships, irrespective of their vaccination status.

Carnival is not the only cruise line to have seen an uptick in cases. Earlier this month, Royal Caribbean had six guests test positive onboard its Adventure of the Seas ship.

The companies have responded to the recent increase in cases by introducing pre-departure testing requirements for all passengers. Carnival also added a mask mandate on Aug. 7 for all vaccinated and unvaccinated guests in indoor areas and banned smoking in the casino.

“The protocols are designed to flex up and adapt,” said Chris Chiames, the chief communications officer for Carnival Cruise Line, in a telephone interview. “That’s what they’ve done here in the context of their desire to mitigate and minimize the threat of Covid, which is everywhere, unfortunately, and it’s going to remain everywhere for a long time.”

“We never suggested our ships would be Covid free,” he continued. “But we designed our protocols to meet and exceed the guidelines of the C.D.C. and we will continue to be vigilant while continuing to focus on giving our guests a great vacation.”

Michael Bayley, the chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean, said the cruise line was typically seeing one or two positive cases out of more than 1,000 guests a week per ship. More than 90 percent of passengers are vaccinated, he said, and because of preboarding testing requirements two to 10 guests are prevented from boarding ships each week because they test positive.

But, Mr. Bayley said in a candid Facebook post addressing the current coronavirus situation, “Testing captures status at a point of time and if the guest is incubating infection, then the test will miss it.” The vaccinated guests who test positive typically are asymptomatic, he said in the post.

Some cruise lines say passengers have canceled amid concerns about the risks of the Delta variant, but many sailings are fully booked through the rest of year because of pent-up demand.

Many cruise enthusiasts with upcoming trips believe that cruise ships are one of the safest ways to travel during the pandemic because of the high percentage of vaccinated passengers and crew, added testing requirements and stringent health and safety measures enforced on board.

“It’s very comforting boarding a cruise ship knowing that most people are vaccinated and everyone is tested,” said Aidan Alexander, 62, an avid cruiser from Florida who has eight sailings booked through 2022. “When you get on a plane or stay in a hotel you don’t know anyone’s vaccination or Covid status and that makes it very difficult to relax and unwind.”

John Ioannidis, an epidemiology professor at Stanford University, disputes that notion. In an airport, on a plane or in a hotel, he said, “you only get exposed for a few hours, whereas on a cruise ship you could get exposed for many days and weeks. It’s a kind of cumulative exposure.”

But he said the health and safety protocols implemented by cruise companies will likely avert the major disasters and deaths that were seen in the initial stages of the pandemic last year.

“I think that it’s fair to say that it’s likely that the outbreaks will not be left to grow to the same extent as they did in the outbreaks in the first wave of the pandemic,” he said.

Christina Perez, 56, a passenger who was on board the Carnival Vista when the virus cases were identified earlier this month, said the cruise line dealt with the situation well and she felt safe throughout her trip.

“It was still an amazing vacation. The crew took great care of us and kept us informed and managed to contain the situation very quickly,” Ms. Perez said in a telephone interview.

“I think it’s getting risker to travel now with the new variants, even on cruises, but at least if there is an outbreak on a cruise ship there is a plan and you know you’ll be taken care of,” she said.

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Read full article at The New York Times

CDC Issues Level 4 Travel Warning For the Bahamas

Inside the Magic 24 August, 2021 - 12:50am

Norwegian Announces New Episode of EMBARK

Cruise Industry News 24 August, 2021 - 12:50am

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that the next episode of “EMBARK – the Series” called "Welcome Aboard" will premiere at 8 p.m. ET on Sept. 9, 2021.

The company's five-part docuseries chronicling its return to cruising journey continues with a behind-the-scenes look at its comeback when the Norwegian Jade becomes the first ship in the fleet to welcome guests back onboard after 500 days.

Norwegian said that viewers of this fourth episode will witness “the emotional moments when crew reunite for the first time after many months, as well as their excitement to do what they do best – deliver memorable cruise experiences.”

The episode will also showcase the final preparations to ready the ship before the first guests embark and the Norwegian Jade becomes the first ship in the fleet to homeport in Athens.

"We have been building up to this moment when we finally set sail after a long 500-day journey back to cruising," said Harry Sommer, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line.

"From the beginning we set out to bring travelers along as we innovated and prepared for our Great Cruise Comeback. Now, in this fourth episode we bring viewers along to see and feel the emotions and excitement of safely reuniting with our guests, crew and the destinations we've missed over the last year," he added.

"Welcome Aboard" will premiere live on Sept. 9, 2021, at 8 p.m. ET on the cruise line’s webpage and Facebook.

Norwegian Cruise Line restarted its cruise operations on July 25, 2021, following a more than 500-day suspension, with the Norwegian Jade launching seven-day itineraries to the Greek Isles. The Norwegian Encore became the first ship in the Norwegian fleet to return to cruising from the U.S. on Aug. 7, 2021 and is currently sailing her inaugural season of week-long Alaska voyages from Seattle.

On Aug. 15, the Norwegian Gem was the first ship in the fleet to resume operations from Miami and set sail from the new Norwegian Cruise Line Terminal at PortMiami with a selection of week-long voyages to the Caribbean and four-day cruises to the Bahamas.

Additional ships are scheduled to redeploy in Europe and North America as the fall progresses.

Norwegian said that the fleetwide redeployment will continue in partnership with local governments and is guided by the robust protocols of the company’s SailSAFE health and safety program, which at its cornerstone includes that all crew and guests must be fully vaccinated to embark for voyages through Dec. 31, 2021. The protocols will be regularly evaluated and modified as needed, Norwegian said.

Photos: Oasis of the Seas departs New York Harbor for first time

Royal Caribbean Blog 24 August, 2021 - 12:50am

Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas sailed away from her new homeport near New York City on Sunday.

Luckily Hurricane Henri shifted enough to the east for the ship to safely depart Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey.

Royal Caribbean shared photos of Oasis sailing away, with the New York City skyline in view.

Oasis of the Seas had her lights on during her evening departure, and sailed past Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

The cruise line's plans to bring Oasis of the Seas to the Northeast was originally planned for 2020, but the global health crisis forced a delay.

The ship is sailing on her 6-night test cruise, where the ship will visit Perfect Day at CocoCay in The Bahamas before turning around to come home.

Watch #OasisoftheSeas sail under the Verrazano Bridge

— Royal Caribbean (@RoyalCaribbean) August 23, 2021

Assuming the test cruise goes well, the test cruise will be what the ship needs to get approval from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) to sail with paying customers.

Oasis of the Seas is scheduled to restart sailings with paying passengers beginning on September 5 from Cape Liberty.

Oasis will offer seven-night sailings from Cape Liberty with stops at Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau in the Bahamas, and Port Canaveral, Florida.

Read moreTop 10 Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas hidden secrets

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CDC Issues New Travel Advisory for the Bahamas 23 August, 2021 - 04:30pm

Today, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an updated travel advisory for the Bahamas. See how this may affect Disney Cruise Line.

Planning to set sail on a Disney Cruise any time soon? You may want to take a look at what’s happening with the Bahamas.

Last week, we learned that the Bahamas issued an emergency power order pertaining to cruise ships looking to dock at a Bahamian port.

They announced that starting on September 3 and extending until November 1, ship captains must provide a passenger manifest. The Bahamian order stated that the manifest should list all people on board the ship by name and include their vaccination status.

If the ship is carrying any unvaccinated passengers, they will be denied the opportunity to port in the Bahamas. This includes private islands, such as Disney’s Castaway Cay. The order applies to anyone of age to be vaccinated. As of this writing, that would mean anyone age 12 and older (in the USA).

Part of the reason the Bahamas seeks to limit visitors during the pandemic may be a reluctance to overwhelm their medical infrastructure. Getting supplies to islands can be challenging.

At the time of this writing, Disney has not released a statement about whether they will make changes to their vaccine requirements and other Covid-19 precautions.

However, if Disney were to require vaccinations as ordered by the Bahamas, they would be in defiance of a Florida Law banning requiring proof of vaccinations.

However, a recent ruling for Norwegian means that Disney Cruise Line could could require vaccine passports in the future. See more details about that ruling HERE.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had previously issued a travel warning for cruising pertaining to Covid-19 on June 26, 2021. This order states that unvaccinated guests should avoid travel on cruise ships.

Today’s warning applies specifically to travel to the Bahamas. The broad warning states all travel to the Bahamas should be avoided. The Bahamas is considered a “level 4” on the CDC’s scale of 1-4.

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