Twenty-seven vaccinated people aboard a Carnival Cruise ship tested positive for coronavirus after a Covid-19 outbreak. The ship, which docked in Belize on Wednesday, is currently under observation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now potential passengers are worried that cruise ships are dangerous. The outbreak has sparked serious questions regarding the safety of cruise ships and whether the pandemic will shut them down again.
Outbreak on Board – Carnival Cruise
The Belize Tourism Board said in a statement that only one of the infected individuals was a passenger while the other 26 people were crew members. The Carnival Vista disembarked from Galveston, Texas, but made a stop in Belize City.
The Carnival Cruise has remained stationed in the Belize port and is awaiting further instructions. Carnival had previously made a statement to the Washington Post, explaining that it was “managing a small number of positive cases on board,” but did not reveal how many cases there were. Belize tourism officials presented the total tally Friday.
“Carnival Vista is managing a small number of positive [Covid-19] cases that surfaced on the cruise that returned to Galveston last Saturday, despite all our crew and almost all of our guests being vaccinated,” a statement from Carnival read. “Several announcements have been made to guests currently on board to keep them updated.”
The statement continued, explaining that Carnival Cruise officials “have managed the situation utilizing stringent health protocols which included placing those who tested positive in isolation and close contacts in quarantine.”
It was reported that there are 2,895 guests aboard the Carnival Cruise and 1,441 crewmembers. It is unclear if all passengers aboard the ship were forced into isolation or if only those who tested positive for Covid-19 are being quarantined. It wasn’t immediately clear if the Covid-19 outbreak has been contained.
Belize tourism officials said in a statement that the infected crew is in isolation aboard the ship and that “most are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms,” likely due to the Covid-19 vaccination. It was reported that out of the more than 4,000 people aboard the Carnival Cruise, 99.98 percent are vaccinated, including its crew. There are currently only exceptions for small children and those with serious medical conditions.
It was reported in a news release that all crew members are now being required to wear N95 masks and all employee social areas aboard the ship are closed. The NY Post reported that all passengers, including those vaccinated, must test negative for Covid-19 before they are allowed to leave the ship at the next port.
The news release explained that “the team at Carnival noted that all positive cases have been isolated and contact tracing has ended with no additional positive cases found and that the infected crew and passenger do not pose a threat to guests, crew or frontline workers in Belize.”
The Covid-19 outbreak aboard the Carnival Vista is one of the largest cases reported on a cruise ship sailing from the United States since cruises resumed in July. In an effort to contain the spread, the Belize Ministry of Health and Wellness inspected the ship while it was docked, Belize tourism officials confirmed.
In a statement to the public, the Belize Tourism Board said that “we are pleased to inform that our personnel from the Ministry of Health and Wellness also carried out an inspection of the protocols onboard the Carnival Vista this morning and are satisfied that they have been able to verify that the measures put in place by the ship are meticulous and deemed highly effective.”
Are Cruises Safe? The Debate Rages On
Carnival Cruise has instated stricter guidelines to protect guests and crewmembers aboard its cruise ships. On August 14, the guidelines will take effect. All guests will be required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test before being allowed on board. This policy affects all passengers regardless of vaccination status.
The Covid-19 outbreak aboard the Carnival Vista is one of the largest cases reported so far. With reinstated mask mandates and the requirement of all passengers to take a negative test prior to boarding, it’s likely that infections can be contained. The vaccinated passenger and crew that tested positive for Covid-19 did not have heavy symptoms and are expected to survive. With vaccinations being required for all guests and crewmembers, Carnival is making sure its cruises are as safe as possible.
Despite the strict policies, shares in the cruise line dropped 1 percent since the Covid-19 outbreak was reported.