Cruise ships are going to have Covid cases. Everywhere you go there are going to be Covid cases. Delta was highly transmissible. Omicron is more transmissible still. Finding Covid cases on cruise ships shouldn’t be surprising, or alarming.
As of Tuesday, there were 89 cruise ships with COVID-19 cases reported, according to the CDC. All but three of those ships were under CDC investigation. Aside from Carnivaland Royal Caribbean RCL, COVID-19 cases also occurred on ships operated by Disney, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Viking Cruises.
Indoor congregant settings are where the virus spreads most easily. Cruise ships require very high rates of vaccination in order to sail. They’re likely safer than spending time indoors at restaurants, bars and gyms or attending indoor concerts and sporting events. But they’re going to have Covid-19 cases because breakthrough infections are real, and they’re looking for cases.
Senator Richard Blumenthal has taken a brief break from populist railing against airlines to call for the CDC to ban cruising, calling ships “petri dishes of COVID infection.” This seems like a silly overreaction, given 95% vaccination rates on board (and full vaccination of crew).
Our warnings have proved sadly prescient & continuously compelling. Time for CDC & cruise lines to protect consumers & again pause—docking their ships. Cruises are repeating recent history as petri dishes of COVID infection. https://t.co/0P7VQNFlpo
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) December 28, 2021
However for over a year I’ve written the reasons I consider cruising during the pandemic to be too risky – not so much to your health if you’re vaccinated (and boosted!) but that there’s too much uncertainty around whether you’ll be able to experience the trip you’re expecting.
- Will you be able to enjoy your cruise, or be forced to quarantine in your cabin? Hope you have a balcony at least!
- Will you be able to make your planned stops at various ports, or be stuck on the ship?
- Will you be able to disembark at your final planned stop and go home as planned?
And if your trip doesn’t work out as expected, don’t expect a do-over.
In some cases, ships were not able to visit planned stops during the itinerary because of the COVID-19 cases among passengers. One passenger reported that she and her fellow travelers were only offered $100 per room as compensation for the inconvenience.
This just isn’t the time where the odds are in your favor to get the cruise experience you’re after. Of course, if the price is low enough for a top shelf cruise, you may still wish to take your chances rather than waiting until pandemic odds improve and prices go up further.