Just Released: CDC Report on COVID Aboard Cruise Ships

Spoiler alert: It’s good news!

According to information just released by the CDC, there have been a total of 1359 positive laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 on cruise ships sailing from U.S. ports between June 26 and October 21. Of that, 49 required hospitalization and 38 prompted medical evacuation. Those numbers include passengers and crew.

Those numbers are good. Really good. Especially when you consider they include passengers and crew members. Any numbers I’ve shared previously were for passengers only but the CDC report presents a more complete picture of how effectively the cruise industry is managing COVID risk. The news is good, and the numbers look even better when viewed in some context. Over 600,000 passengers have sailed aboard cruise ships from U.S. ports during the time covered in the CDC report, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA),  a major cruise industry trade association. I actually think the number passengers is much higher, but who am I to question CLIA?

Individual cruise lines are releasing their own COVID reports. Royal Caribbean reports that they’ve had just 150 cases of COVID with over half a million passengers having cruised worldwide. According to the trade journal Travel Pulse, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio called the number of cases on his company’s ships “inconsequential and well below what we all saw in the general population during this time.”

The number of required hospitalizations and medical evacuations among these positive COVID cases are reassuringly low. More passengers are medically evacuated for injuries and heart related incidents than for COVID. There hasn’t been an “outbreak” of COVID on any cruise ship sailing from a U.S. port since cruising resumed back in late May, and the overwhelming majority of the COVID-19 cases were positive COVID tests in people who were asymptomatic.

This report from the CDC is truly good news. Even so, it serves as a stark reminder that contracting COVID on a cruise is still a risk. It is a much lower risk than most land-based leisure activities, but a risk none-the-less. The virus is here to stay but the CDC report tells me that the cruise lines have found a way to reduce the risk of contracting COVID on a cruise ship to the point that most people should feel comfortable cruising.

This is a great time to book a cruise. Ships continue to sail at partial capacity but with full crews. That means you get the double benefit of all the fun of cruising without the crowds, and personalized service on mass market cruise ships that you won’t see again unless you spring for a luxury cruise. That won’t last much longer. The cruise lines have almost two years of lost revenue to make up for, and they can’t do that until they get back to sailing at full capacity, which will probably be by Spring 2022 for most ships. The demand is certainly there to fill the ships and then some, so if you have been thinking about a cruise now is the time to act.

Since cruise ships resumed sailing from U.S. waters, we’ve sailed with Norwegian Cruise Lines, Virgin Voyages, and I’m excited to announce that next week we will be sailing with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. In fact, we are cruising aboard two ships next week. On Thursday we set sail aboard Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Odyssey of the Seas, for an invitation only, two day pre-inaugural event. This is a non-revenue sailing that gives the travel community three days and two nights to kick the tires of this Quantum Ultra class ship. Odyssey will be sailing to Royal Caribbean’s private paradise in the Bahamas where get to experience a “Perfect Day at Coco Cay.” We love the Quantum class of ships, and we are excited to be able to share with you all extras that put the Ultra in a Quantum Ultra class ship.

We will be on land for just one day after that event before we set sail again, this time aboard the newest ship in Norwegian Cruise Lines’ fleet, the NCL Encore. We participated in a pre-inaugural event aboard the Encore a few months before COVID shut down the cruise industry, and we are excited to be getting back aboard for a full week of cruising. Since we’ve been aboard before we know right where to go for the most fun! Follow us on social media to see how much these two ships have to offer.

If you’re vaccinated you can cruise, and this latest CDC report gives us all confidence that you can do so safely and with well-managed risk. Now that COVID is something we are learning to live with, it’s time to get back to living our lives. Give us a call, drop us an e-mail, or send us an IM on Facebook and let’s start planning YOUR cruise!

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