I don’t think most people who are vaccinated with one of the mRNA vaccines in widest use in the United States have too much to fear from Covid-19, and shouldn’t be overly concerned about catching the virus on a cruise ship. However I still don’t think it’s a good idea to cruise now, even if you’re vaccinated.
That’s because other people might catch the virus, and you might be forced to quarantine. Or worse yet, your ship might not be able to dock. I’d want greater certainty that a cruise is going to end according to its published itinerary before recommending a return to sailing.
Royal Caribbean has just delayed the return of its Odyssey of the Seas ship due to a Covid-19 outbreak among crew. Its planned July 3 departure has been pushed back to July 31.
- The ship’s 1400 crewmembers were vaccinated on June 4
- On June 10 eight crewmembers tested positive. They are suffering mild or asymptomatic cases.
- The ships crew all have to quarantine for 14 days
Credit: Royal Caribbean
What’s striking to me is, in saying that everyone was vaccinated on June 4, it seems likely that they were given the Johnson & Johnson vaccine which is a one dose regimen. That’s logistically easier than bringing everyone back three (Pfizer) or four (Moderna) weeks later, and indeed using the Moderna shot the crew wouldn’t have been in a position to sail on July 3.
While the Johnson & Johnson is a good vaccine – it performs better than what I’d hoped we would see in terms of effectiveness a year ago – real world data on Pfizer and on both Pfizer and Moderna demonstrate just how effective the mRNA vaccines are against the virus and its variants and in particular even against asymptomatic cases.
With the way the cruise industry has been decimated by the pandemic, and with its reputation hanging in the balance, I’d have expected them to take precautions like ensuring everyone on board received the most protective vaccine possible – both to avoid spreading something to a guest, and to avoid the P.R. nightmare of a Covid cluster that shuts down cruise ships once again.
In this case though the positive cases appeared days after a first shot, and in some cases infections could even have predated vaccination, so the choice of vaccine wouldn’t have stopped this delay (since they didn’t get the crew vaccinated until June). However going forward I’d expect they’d want as much protection as possible.