People who enjoy cruises – I mean who REALLY enjoy cruises – are chomping at the bit to start cruising again. As someone who has certain places and activities that she misses dearly, I totally understand that feeling. However, since I’m not willing to put myself at risk, on top of the possibility of passing coronacooties I don’t know I have onto anyone else, I’m willing to wait for as long as it takes to go back to my pre-COVID lifestyle.
The CDC has made it clear that new precautions and procedures need to be in place before any cruise ship leaves a U.S. dock in the age of COVID-19. They’re talking among themselves, as well as with the cruise companies, travel experts and even the general public (and boy, did they give the CDC an earful!) so the proper requirements can be planned, documented, explained and carried out. Cruise companies appear to understand that, as evidenced by their voluntarily delaying when they will cruise again (for example, Disney Cruise Line has already said they won’t start cruising until at least mid-December).
Things are different in Europe and Asia, where, among other hurdles, cases of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus are significantly lower than they are in the U.S. In fact, several cruise companies in those parts of the world are already sailing. Relatively large ships from MSC, Costa and TUI cruise lines, among others, have been sailing for the last few weeks to months, as have smaller ships from European Waterways, Paul Gauguin, and CroisiEurope Cruises.
I admittedly don’t keep track of European cruise ships or the rules they have to follow. But when I read that one of those European ships winds up with cases of coronavirus on board, it gets my attention. And that’s exactly what just happened, when it was reported in CruiseCritic that two passengers and five crew members on CroisiEurope’s Vasco de Gama river cruise ship recently tested positive for COVID-19.
CroisiEurope released the following statement:
“Two guests and five crew have tested positive on a CroisiEurope Cruises river cruise on the Douro.
“The passengers in question fell ill right at the end of the cruise (disembarkation day) and were immediately isolated and then taken to a local hospital where they tested positive (the day after disembarkation.)
“The strict protocols put in place by the company to allow safe sailing were adhered to at all times. All other passengers have been informed of the situation and advised to self-isolate and take a coronavirus test.“All the crew were tested and the ship locked down for 10 days in agreement with the local Portuguese health authorities who were satisfied with the handling of this matter. The five crew who tested positively are in self isolation and are currently fit and well.”
- Assuming that testing will need to be done to ensure no one has the virus before they board the ship, how far ahead of time will it need to be done? After all, you can be tested on a Monday and be exposed to the virus on Tuesday. Plus not everywhere has guaranteed 48-hour or 72-hour testing available, so then what? And is testing that’s 93% accurate “good enough?” What about those 7 people who get false negatives? Do the cruise lines really want them on their ships? How will they cull them out?
- “Encouraging” mask use on shore excursions is playing with fire. How will the cruise ships know that passengers actually did wear their masks and socially distanced themselves, especially when you have some people who are so vehemently anti-mask?
- Cruise lines have tried to eradicate norovirus on ships for years; all that takes is washing your hands after you go to the bathroom. Despite signage, announcements and hand sanitizer virtually everywhere, there are multiple outbreaks on cruise ships every year. If cruise lines can’t get people to wash their hands after they use the toilet to avoid an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness, how are they going to ensure passengers consistently take proper precautions to protect everyone on board when a certain percent of them think this worldwide pandemic is nothing more than an overhyped myth that was conjured up so Donald Trump will lose the 2020 presidential election, and it’s their God-given Constitutional right to not have to wear a mask?
And that’s just off the top of my head.
There are some cruise fans who say that since airlines can fly and restaurants can open, cruise ships should be able to sail. They claim they’d be willing to take the chance on cruising, if they could just cruise again. I think those people have little understanding of how the 2019 Novel Coronavirus works and spreads. Is it worth going on a cruise if it means you could die? What if you don’t die but have lingering heart, muscle or brain problems? What if you give it to a loved one and they die? I understand their love for cruising, but is one cruise worth all that?
Meanwhile, according to an official statement, Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, both from Florida, introduced the Set Sail Safely Act on September 17th, in coordination with a Private Sector Advisory Committee to establish a Maritime Task Force. The task force would include representatives from multiple federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Coast Guard, Health and Human Services, Department of Transportation, Department of State and the Federal Maritime Commission.
The goal of the task force is to address the changes needed to allow cruise lines to resume operations. I thought that’s what cruise lines were already doing in conjunction with the CDC, but maybe I’m wrong. Anyway, the CDC is wise to not let cruises in the U.S. sail until everything has been taken into consideration, including whatever cruise lines and this potential task force come up with. A cruise, even one that’s just a few days long, is not the same as an airline flight or going to a restaurant; it means being with the same people, potentially in closer quarters than they should and perhaps with improper mask use, for days on end. When you’re talking about a virus that’s highly contagious and potentially deadly, cruise lines need to have all their ducks in a row before sailing again, whether passengers like it or not.
Feature Photo: CroisiEurope
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#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary