So, you are considering taking a cruise - however others are telling you that cruising is a “petri dish” and that you will be susceptible to all kinds of illnesses...
The fact is that cruising, along with being the best vacation value, is among the safest forms of travel. The existing safety and cleaning protocols on most cruise ships (even before COVID-19) far exceeded those found at most popular resorts, amusement parks, sporting events, concerts, restaurants, shopping malls, and theaters.
Of course, the media just loves soundbites from cruisers who are impacted by a shipboard event and willing to share their personal experience…even if most other cruisers on the same cruise don’t feel the same way. Therefore, all you ever hear about are negative issues to sensationalize the event, as well as intimidate and scare travelers about cruising.
The fact is, even if you booked an all-inclusive resort, hotel, or attended or visited an amusement park, sporting event, theater, concert, restaurant or shopping mall, that you were just as susceptible to getting sick as anyone on a cruise, as you were usually in close proximity to dozens if not hundreds, or thousands of others.
By law, the U.S. government requires ALL major cruise lines to report any major outbreaks of sickness or deaths on cruise ships. Yet, the U.S. government does NOT require any popular resorts, hotels, amusement parks, shopping malls, restaurants, theatres, concerts, or sporting events to report any major outbreak of illnesses or deaths. Illnesses such as COVID-19, Norovirus, and the Flu are just as likely to spread quickly among the dozens, hundreds, and thousands of people who are near others.
Contrary to what many people think, Norovirus, the most commonly associated shipborne illness does NOT start on a cruise ship. It starts when a guest who is already infected boards a ship and touches everything including railings, elevator buttons, chairs, food, dishes, glasses, etc. That’s why all cruise lines require guests to sign a statement when boarding a ship that they have no illness. The problem is that once guests arrive at the cruise terminal, how many do you think want to report that they are sick?
Please note that the extensive new safety and health protocols of major cruise lines will help prevent this from happening. These include:
Stringent testing of EVERY guest and crew member will be required before sailing. According to a recent news report from CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association), a COVID-19 test will now be required of 100% of all guests and crew members, by all major cruise lines prior to embarkation. Anyone found with a fever, or COVID-19 symptom will be denied boarding. Those found with symptoms after sailing will be confined to special medical facilities and quarantined to secure and safe cabins on the ship.
- Passenger capacity on ships will initially be reduced by up to 50% to minimize spacing among guests.
- The number of dining tables and restaurant seating will be reduced as will seating in bars, pool decks, lounges and theaters.
- Buffet restaurants will still be available on most ships. However, instead of serving themselves, guests may select foods which would then be served to them by a member of the ships staff.
- The addition of extra medical staff, testing facilities, ICU units, secure cabins, and personal protection devices on virtually all ships.
- Emergency “muster drill” crowding hundreds of people together for up to an hour, will be a thing of the past. Muster drills will now be required electronically via your cabin TV. Once you have watched the video, you will then be directed to stop by your actual muster station where you will be electronically confirmed and logged in.
In March, the media had a field day reporting the multiple deaths of guests and staff on certain cruise ships when COVID-19 first appeared. This was of course prior to the knowledge of most health officials (and cruise lines) being provided with accurate information as to how the virus was caught and spread. Even the President of the United States in February and March was reporting that the COVID-19 virus was nothing more than a “flu” and would quickly disappear with only a few lives lost.
In February and March, as COVID-19 was never initially indicated to be an “air born” virus, the cruise lines felt that it would be safer for guests to stay in their cabins, not realizing that the virus could spread through the cruise ship’s closed HVAC air system. Of course, most of the major U.S. and international cruise ports, upon learning about shipborne outbreaks of COVID-19, prohibited effected cruise ships from disembarking guests or staff for weeks. This only led to a further spread of the virus with all guests and staff being cooped up on the ship and in their respective cabins without access to fresh air and mask protection.
Fortunately, all the major U.S. health departments, hospitals, doctors and pharmaceutical companies have worked together tirelessly to combat the COVID-19 Pandemic. They have learned a great deal over the past seven months as to how the virus spreads and how to diagnose and treat it. Hopefully, a vaccine that is proven to work will soon be available and guests will feel more comfortable on a plane, taking a cruise or resort vacation, attending amusement parks, sporting events, restaurants, shopping malls, concerts and theaters.
In the meantime, cooler heads have prevailed and some of the smartest and most knowledgeable health professionals, doctors and immunologists have developed new and extensive healthy protocols. Cruise lines have invested millions of dollars in the installation of new ship wide HVAC systems providing fresh air circulation for cruise ships to minimize air transmittal. Most of these healthy protocols will far exceed CDC requirements. In fact, most of these protocols will far exceed protocols at most resorts, concerts, amusement parks, restaurants, theaters, sporting events and shopping malls.