Cruise Ship Virus Overreaction: What’s the Problem?

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A handful of major news outlets have jumped on the opportunity to broadcast the scandal that is SeaDream 1 along with other articles spreading fear of cruise ship travel since the pandemic hit earlier in 2020.

In the meantime, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reinstate the previously lifted No-Sail-Order immediately.

With the heavy-duty reporting that’s going on, you would almost think that the small vessel, carrying a mere 53 passengers and 66 crew members, had a 100% infection rate amongst all guests and crew. Nothing is further from the truth.

After being tested twice and subjected to some of the industry’s most stringent measures, somehow, one guest had managed to carry the virus inside the ship. Subsequently, four others have also been infected with what seems to be a mild variant with minor complaints.

The guest was quickly isolated, and all guests and crew tested. The fact that out of 119 people on a small vessel like SeaDream 1, only five people were infected proves that the procedures work.

Whether it is Norovirus or Coronavirus, the cruise industry can count on being investigated and reported on more than any other industry worldwide.

The Media- Highly Sensationalized Articles

The cruise industry has had a bad name in one way or another for many years now. And indeed, 20-25 years ago, this was fully justified in many ways. Nowadays, Cruise ships are amongst the safest places you can be.

A few months ago, Cruise Hive reported on the ten reasons why cruise ships are not floating Petri dishes. And all of these reasons still stand today.

Mainly number two on that list, misinformation in the media. Some media outlets would let you believe that Norovirus on cruise ships is ‘not uncommon.‘ USA Today reported earlier this year that a Princess ship had been Infected in March, while Oasis of the Seas was impacted by an outbreak in January of the previous year.

MSC Cruises is the perfect example to dealing with the pandemic and being able to safely protect guests and crew members. The cruise line has already said that new health measures are working.

MSC Grandiosa Health Measures
Genova, la nave MSC Grandiosa si prepara a partire, la prima crociera dopo il lockdown, le procedure d’imbarco _ il tampone

Contrary to what the article states, here are the facts:

  • Out of 272 ships operating under the CLIA flag worldwide, ten ships had a norovirus outbreak in 2019.
  • Thirty million people took a cruise in 2019. 1302 guests or 0.00434% total was infected with Norovirus onboard a ship in 2019.

Having dramatic headlines like “Mayday! Covid strikes on comeback Caribbean cruise” that spreads fear and worry about cruising does not help the industry when in fact, the cruise lines have done so much to deal with COVID-19 unlike many places on land and in the air.

These ‘media’ reports are exactly the highly sensationalized articles that have given the cruise industry the bad name it does not deserve anymore. Were people infected onboard? Yes. Did the company deal with the situation effectively? Yes again.

You could think that not all outbreaks are reported. Ships are by law required to have independent medical professionals that must report to the CDC any occurrences of Norovirus onboard. Attempting to break this rule will mean a no entry order for any U.S. ports for that vessel. Even if a ship does not sail to the U.S., the ship still needs to keep all records available for inspection later.

Cruise Ship Balcony

The Cruise Industry Knows And Takes Its Responsibility

The cruise industry is hyperaware of the consequences that a COVID-19 outbreak could have. Just look at what is happening to SeaDream currently. Norwegian Cruise Line, the smallest of the big three, has reserved $300 million to implement COVID-19 measures. Counting all measures taken on the 272 ships associated with CLIA, this number goes up to billions.

The CDC recognizes that infections can still happen onboard, despite all the measures taken. The organization has ensured that cruise lines must make several provisions onboard and ashore to deal with potential infections. Cruise Lines are investing billions of dollars to achieve this.

We’ve come to a point now where nothing, even a fully implemented vaccine, will convince the mass media and media-savvy politicians that cruising can indeed be a safe activity.

Also Read: How to Social Distance Effectively on a Cruise?

In the last decade, we’ve seen that cruising is one of the safest activities there is. With some of the most professional people both onboard and ashore that will guarantee your safety at all times.

Next time you are in a resort, airplane, or shopping mall, look at the procedures they have implemented. Compare these to the extreme measures the cruise lines are taking. You will see that the measures cruise lines have to take are based, at least partly, on the bias that exists towards the cruise industry.

Photo Credit: vladeva /

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