COVID-19: Cruise lines facing global disruption

 Monday, December 27, 2021 


Cruise tourism is one of the top priorities in leisure and meetings travel sector. This cruise industry is a modern phenomenon, but it began from 19th century. With ages, the cruise industry gained popularity and becomes one of the most populous mode of tourism. Now in this situation, with the COVID-19 escalation, the cruise tourism industry sees huge loss with the voyage cancellations.

Now, at least four ocean cruise ships were turned away from ports of call or were prohibited from letting passengers disembark in United States because of COVID-19 cases aboard. A Carnival cruise ship that departed Miami has minimum number of people aboard who have tested positive for COVID-19, and it has been denied entry to ports at two Caribbean islands, the cruise line said.  The Carnival Freedom ship was granted access to visit Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic, company spokesperson AnneMarie Mathews said.

Though other cruises have had cases since most of the US-based ships resumed service this summer with vaccine requirements and other measures meant to minimize outbreaks, the rate of cruises forced to alter their itineraries appears to have ticked up.

The travel disruptions still are a far cry from March 2020, when the pandemic shut down the cruise industry and led to weeks of efforts to get already embarked passengers and crew members home as ports closed to virus-hit vessels.

Still, this week’s disruptions came amid global concern about the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, and as Covid-19 case rates rose in the US and elsewhere.

The Mexican officials prevented the Holland America Line Koningsdam from letting its passengers disembark in Puerto Vallarta on Thursday after 21 crew members tested positive for Covid-19, the Jalisco state health department said.

Jalisco health authorities initially were going to allow people testing negative to disembark. However, they changed their mind, citing an “exponential growth of confirmed cases in the crew” by Thursday, the department said. Only one crew member had tested positive less than a week earlier, the department said.

The ship, which departed San Diego on December 19 with more than 1,000 passengers and more than 870 crew members, visited Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlán before it arrived in Puerto Vallarta. It was due to return to San Diego as scheduled on Sunday.

Holland America Line, like the other cruise companies in this story, requires passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with some exceptions for children.

The ports in the Caribbean islands of Bonaire and Aruba turned away the Carnival Freedom ship on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, after “a small number” of people aboard tested positive for Covid-19, the cruise line said. However, the company lined up a replacement stop Friday in the Dominican Republic.

It was allowed to stop in Curacao on Tuesday. Dr. Izzy Gerstenbluth, the national epidemiologist for Curacao, said the ship alerted him before it arrived that crew members had tested positive.

 After he visited the ship and determined the cases were contained among the crew, Curacao allowed the ship’s passengers to leave the ship, with the crew remaining on board, he said.

The ship returned to Miami as planned on Sunday, the cruise line said.

Passenger Jim Storupski told that his experience onboard was positive, adding the company was “very accommodating.” His wife, Connie, praised the company for its Covid-19 safety protocols and said they “had a good time.” The couple said they plan to sail with the company again in two weeks.

Officials in Curacao and Aruba turned away the Royal Caribbean Odyssey of the Seas this week after 55 fully vaccinated crew members and passengers contracted Covid-19, the Miami Herald reported Wednesday.

Curacao health officials decided the percentage of people aboard who tested positive was too high for the nation to allow the ship to dock.

The ship is due to return to Florida’s Fort Lauderdale as planned on Sunday. According to Royal Caribbean Cruise, the ship can accommodate up to 5,550 guests plus 1,600 crew members. It wasn’t clear whether the ship was fully occupied.

 Colombian officials prevented the Seven Seas Mariner from letting anyone disembark in Cartagena on Wednesday, after seven positive Covid-19 cases — in six crew members and one passenger — were reported. The ship began an 18-day trip from Miami to San Francisco on December 18.

Also this month, at least 48 people who were aboard the Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas tested positive for Covid-19, the cruise line said after the ship finished its trip in Miami December 18. That ship, carrying more than 6,000 passengers and crew members, stopped at three islands and did not report an itinerary disruption.

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