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Is It Safe To Cruise During COVID?

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I'm thinking of taking a cruise this Winter (in North America) but not having pre-existing conditions or being older (I'm 51) I'm probably not going to be able to get vaccinated until next Spring (along with probably a lot of other people.)  I see some cruise lines are starting back up in November.  I read this excellent article here by Claudia Ceci ( https://www.cruisecritic.com/news/5572/ ) that detailed some of the great lengths the ships are going to to make them safe.  That's great!

 

The thing I'm concerned about is that as we've learned more about the virus, we now know it spreads through the air, not just surfaces.  So you really want to avoid confined spaces with large groups of people for long periods.  So while the safety precautions the ships are taking definitely help reduce the risk, can't I still contract the virus from some asymptomatic purpose while breathing the same air as them in various parts of the ship, especially while eating with a mask off? 

 

Claudia's article keeps referencing a "guarantee" as in "safety guarantee"  is this just being used figuratively or do I actually get all my money back if I catch the virus.  For example the article states "With the restart of the cruises, you expect the first to book are the repeaters, yet this is not the case: on board there are many guests who are new to cruise. They chose it for the safety guarantee it offers and once on board they are discovering its infinite possibilities."

 

Is this a money back safety guarantee?

 

I understand that nothing in life is without risk, but I'm undecided as to whether to cruise this Winter before a vaccine?  Seems like maybe some more time and many more ships sailing will eventually answer the question as to whether an outbreak can be prevented.  But given the horror stories of passengers stranded of the coast when the virus broke out, wouldn't another virus breakout on a cruise ship prior to the world being vaccinated (could take another year?) be extremely catastrophic to the industry?  I suppose all of us cruising before the vaccine are basically voluntary guinea pigs?
 

 

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Welcome to Cruise Critic! If you look around, there are dozens, many dozens of discussions on the possibilities and risks of cruises. Many people are having the same thoughts as you about cruising.

 

There is no cruise line confirmed to start up anytime soon, at least in the US. The chances of you getting on a cruise ship sailing from the US in November is extremely low. Money back guarantees are limited to only a very small number of cruise lines.

 

Covid 19 has very low possibility of being obtained from a surface. Spread through the air is by far the more serious problem.

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Seems a bunch of cruise lines agreed to mandatory testing. But as you point out there are no confirmed sailing dates yet.  Wonder how that's going to work.  Will they prevent you from leaving the ship at ports of call or test everyone everytime they board the ship.  But isn't there an incubation period?  I'm almost worried about another "Prison Ship" episode if there were an outbreak moreso than getting it myself.

 

The more I think about it, seems like a big gamble, sort of like opening up schools, no one really knows what will happen in the mid-term when there is lack of historical data of how effective safety measures are prior to people getting vaccinated.  I guess in effect, anyone boarding a cruise ship prior to being vaccinated is a voluntary guinea pig in a big experiment.  The cruise lines obviously must be doing risk/reward analysis.

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No cruise line operating in the US has agreed to anything yet. There are proposals on the table, and, more or less, a set of demands from the CDC. One of the proposals is you will be allowed off for ship sponsored excursions only, which would be constructed to reduce chances of picking up Covid while ashore. In turn, this would reduce the need for testing every time you go ashore. At least one of the cruise lines operating in Europe tests you when you come aboard the first day, once in the middle of the cruise. And monitors your temperature regularly.

 

Yes, there is a lot of unknowns out there. There is also reasonable preventative measures in place (masks, social distancing, etc) in society. So, yes, everyone, including cruise lines, are doing cost/risk/benefit analysis to figure where the best chances of a cruise fit in.

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Likelihood of cruises in 2020 is extremely low. If they do get a small green light, expect itineraries to be to one port on 3/4 night cruises only. As for Covid, it needs to be looked at similar to HIV...its here, its not going anywhere, and assess your own risk.

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Not sure this "safety guarantee" is a thing.  It's just a program name I think for the Covid changes.  I think it is detailed here and applies only to Schengen countries in Europe.

 

https://www.msccruisesusa.com/news/msc-reveals-health-safety-protocol

 

The main things about a cruise in the Covid era:

* reduced services and choices compared to before

* social distancing onboard (4 to an elevator!)

* very limited ports and port excursions, all in a "bubble", no self-guided or local arrangements (wonder about shopping in ports like Cozumel... will all vendors be in the bubble?)

* If you get sick, you will be subjected to mandatory quarantine on and off the ship.  Possibly at your expense. Nobody knows this yet. You may be stuck in a Miami hotel getting food delivered and not allowed to travel home for up to 2 weeks???  Strong suggestion this may be the plan but no details yet. Insurance may not cover any of this as it is a known risk now!

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"Mandatory testing for Covid....." hmmmm... will they also do mandatory testing for

The flu?

The common cold?

Norovirus?

Any other bug-du-jour?

 

Imagine what that would be like.....

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On 9/28/2020 at 8:30 PM, Kwaj girl said:

"Mandatory testing for Covid....." hmmmm... will they also do mandatory testing for

The flu?

The common cold?

Norovirus?

Any other bug-du-jour?

 

Imagine what that would be like.....

 

Flu killed about 34,000 in the USA in 2019

Covid-19 has killed 211,000 to date in 2020, even though it arrived at the end of the 19/20 winter and the 20/21 winter hasn't arrived yet. A vaccine is very unlikely to be widely available in 2020, and without precautions and restrictions that death rate would double every 3 to 4 days.

So there's no comparison between Covid-19and the flu. 

 

The common cold does not kill, altho like Covid it can occasionally lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia was the cause of about 50,000 deaths in 2019, but I can find no statistics on those which started via a cold - so clearly it's not considered to be significant.

So there's no comparison between Covid-19 and the common cold.

 

Norovirus is a particularly horrible virus, and something like 20 million folk in the USA are affected every year.

To date, over 7 million have tested positive for Covid-19. Because there was no Covid-19 testing available for the general population in the early days, and because for many folk the symptoms are minor or they are asymptomatic, the true figure for Covid-19 is probably much higher than that for norovirus.

But the death rate for norovirus is about 800 p.a. That's quite a lot lower than 211,000 and counting !!!  

So there's no comparison between Covid-19 and norovirus.

 

All the statistics above are on trusted medical websites like CDC, not from "Karen from Facebook".

 

Bugs du-jour?

There are vaccines for transmissable diseases like Yellow Fever and yes, there's mandatory vaccination, with certification, for those who visit infected parts of the world.

Or can you name some other bugs du-jour which are infectious???????  

 

JB :classic_rolleyes:

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In my opinion, cruising can be more safe than going to your grocery store with common sense, protocols, and testing in place. Make restrictions to board for people in the high risk categories. Capping capacity at 60% (random number). Only allow balcony cabins. A quick count on Harmony OTS, there are 1,952 cabins with balconies (suites, inside balconies, outside balconies). Running high level numbers of every other stateroom and 4 people per stateroom, that is ~4,000 people. Give or take and you are at 60% capacity. Implement a mask policy in certain areas, social distancing most everywhere, and no smoking to send those particles everywhere and you have an extremely safe environment.

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Cruising can definitely be made a lot safer from a virus spread standpoint.

 

However, the Doctors and Scientists widely agree that there are several variable that affect the resulting risk factor.  They are:

 

(a) What percentage of people that are around each other are wearing masks to decrease (doesn't eliminate) the droplets in the air.   (Unfortunately this measure cannot be employed when drinking and eating.)

(b) How many people are in the same area.  A gathering of 100 people is far more risky than a gathering of 10.

(c) How small and confined is the area?  Are they gathered together outside in a park?  In a Costco Warehouse?  In a small Trader Joe's Grocery Store? In a room in a home?

(d) Probably the most significant is what percentage of the people in the gathering have been tested within the last 24 hours?

 

The cruise ships can greatly reduce the risk through testing but then everyone has to be prevented from interacting with other people at the ports of call that haven't been tested (aka tour bubbles).  If those bubbles can practically be maintained is yet to be seen.  Also, it is a fact that the closer the test is to when the person is exposed, the higher statistical probability the test will have a false negative.  It takes time for the virus to incubate to a detectable level.  If people are exposed to the virus up to 4 or 5 days prior to the Cruise Line Testing them, that doesn't insure you won't get false negative tests.  Everything is relative though.  Any test is better than no test by far.

 

Spending hundreds of hours on a cruise where some of the hundreds/thousands of passengers could have had false negatives and many people have their masks off while dining over multiple meals over multiple days, or the "tour bubble" wasn't 100% effective, in my opinion is probably riskier than spending 45 minutes in a grocery store with 75 other people, unless you are going to the grocery store 5 times a day every day.

 

Edited by captainjak

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A lot of equivocating on this thread :).  So lets go back to the OP's question which is "Is it safe to cruise during COVID?"  And the answer unequivocally is NO!  NO, it is not safe to cruise during the current COVID situation.  And it will not be reasonably safe until such time as their is a safe/effective vaccine with a high degree of efficacy.  At that point those who get vaccinated or who already have antibodies would be more then reasonably safe.  

 

Other folks (including moi) talk about how to make cruising safer and that is a good topic but not the answer to the OP's question.  "Safer" does not mean safe!  Perhaps the most profound statement one can make about COVID is that "we do not know what we do not know" and even the most informed experts are quick to say we have a lot more to learn about COVID, how it spreads, how to deal (if possible) with the long term morbidities, etc.  For those who deny what I just posted I will give you a real life example regarding a good friend of a family member.  He is a very healthy 30some year old with absolutely no known underlying conditions.  He get COVID while living and working in NYC and had a relatively mild case.  However, his first symptom was to lose most of his sense of smell and ability to taste!  This happened in February.  It is now October and he has still not regained his ability to smell or taste despite being treated (for months) at a top medical facility in NYC.  His doctors have told him they have no clue as to when or if those important senses will recover or improve.  They simply do not know.  There are others with inflammation of the heart sack (pericarditis)  which is a serious problem even in its mild forms.  Some of these folks have fully recovered but others continue to have recurrent pericarditis.  Will these kind of morbidities be life long and life changing, or will they eventually disappear.  Nobody knows!

 

So here is the bottom line.  Many folks who are young and healthy feel that it is OK to take some risk such as going on a cruise.  They rightfully understand that in most cases they would recover from COVID.  But, unfortunately, too many of those young folks recover with what seems to be long term morbidities (known now as "long haulers").  

 

So here is the question folks need to ask themselves and answer.  Is a cruise worth the increased risk of COVID?  Each of us has to wrestle with that kind of decision on a daily basis.  When DW and I recently took a 2 week vacation in South Carolina we knew there was increased risk but thought we could successfully manage that risk.  But on a cruise ship I do not think that a passenger (or crew member) can manage the risk and it will be more like rolling the dice with the cruise lines doing some things to improve the odds (in your favor).    On land trips I can social distance on a routine basis but on a mass market ship social distancing will be near impossible (even with reduced capacity).  And many folks will question whether a cruise is worth the money if one has to constantly worry about using an elevator, eating meals, going to a show, trying to enjoy a bar/lounge, etc.  And then there is the issue of ports which is an entire subject of its own.

 

Hank

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On 9/25/2020 at 4:35 PM, captainjak said:

I'm thinking of taking a cruise this Winter (in North America) but not having pre-existing conditions or being older (I'm 51) I'm probably not going to be able to get vaccinated until next Spring (along with probably a lot of other people.)  I see some cruise lines are starting back up in November.  I read this excellent article here by Claudia Ceci ( https://www.cruisecritic.com/news/5572/ ) that detailed some of the great lengths the ships are going to to make them safe.  That's great!

 

The thing I'm concerned about is that as we've learned more about the virus, we now know it spreads through the air, not just surfaces.  So you really want to avoid confined spaces with large groups of people for long periods.  So while the safety precautions the ships are taking definitely help reduce the risk, can't I still contract the virus from some asymptomatic purpose while breathing the same air as them in various parts of the ship, especially while eating with a mask off? 

 

Claudia's article keeps referencing a "guarantee" as in "safety guarantee"  is this just being used figuratively or do I actually get all my money back if I catch the virus.  For example the article states "With the restart of the cruises, you expect the first to book are the repeaters, yet this is not the case: on board there are many guests who are new to cruise. They chose it for the safety guarantee it offers and once on board they are discovering its infinite possibilities."

 

Is this a money back safety guarantee?

 

I understand that nothing in life is without risk, but I'm undecided as to whether to cruise this Winter before a vaccine?  Seems like maybe some more time and many more ships sailing will eventually answer the question as to whether an outbreak can be prevented.  But given the horror stories of passengers stranded of the coast when the virus broke out, wouldn't another virus breakout on a cruise ship prior to the world being vaccinated (could take another year?) be extremely catastrophic to the industry?  I suppose all of us cruising before the vaccine are basically voluntary guinea pigs?
 

 

 

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Don't think it's going to happen. The fun of a cruise is to be worry free. A cruise at partial capacity, no real buffet, everyone in n masks?  Worrying every time someone coughs?

We were on a ww cruise this year and started in Venice. By mid-March it was clear there were no ports, NONE that would accept us.  We left in Perth Australia and the ship sailed for 38 more days with no stops for passengers to get off,  There was no Corona on board amazingly. 

Why not wait till you are comfortable?

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On 9/28/2020 at 12:30 PM, Kwaj girl said:

"Mandatory testing for Covid....." hmmmm... will they also do mandatory testing for

The flu?

The common cold?

Norovirus?

Any other bug-du-jour?

 

Imagine what that would be like.....

 

I am not necessarily opposed to testing for the flu and perhaps screening for noro.     

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Is it safe?  Well how much risk do you want to take for fun/leisure

 

What is your age, health, and do you carry risks like old, obese, out of shape, etc. etc.

 

Did you see the recent news that new people who ate out had twice the positive test to COVID,   will be interesting to see such statistics for flyers, or maybe cruisers when it starts.  

 

Don't worry cruising will be regulated very tightly and hopefully when countries that allow sailing will have their junk together, USA maybe not, LOL

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On 10/4/2020 at 11:26 AM, Hlitner said:

A lot of equivocating on this thread :).  So lets go back to the OP's question which is "Is it safe to cruise during COVID?"  And the answer unequivocally is NO!  NO, it is not safe to cruise during the current COVID situation. 

Everyone is permitted an opinion. I like to do comparisons. If I take 5,000 people, put them on a remote island, with no media or news, and just entertainment and fun, none of them would have a thought about Covid and none of them would even be worried about contracting it. Take 1,000 people to the grocery store, no pre-test for covid, wear mask, and social distance, 1 of them will have contracted Covid 19 within a week. 

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11 minutes ago, bigrednole said:

Everyone is permitted an opinion. I like to do comparisons. If I take 5,000 people, put them on a remote island, with no media or news, and just entertainment and fun, none of them would have a thought about Covid and none of them would even be worried about contracting it. Take 1,000 people to the grocery store, no pre-test for covid, wear mask, and social distance, 1 of them will have contracted Covid 19 within a week. 

There are some big differences between a ship and grocery store.  When I go to a grocery store I drive to the store, put on my mask, easily social distance inside the store, leave the store, drive home, wash my hands, and back to life.  If anyone in that store has COVID it is very unlikely I would be near that person, but in any case I can leave the store and go home.  Now lets talk about being on a cruise ship (anywhere) and having a single person (passenger or crew) develop COVID symptoms.  The thousands of other souls on that vessel are (under current rules) going to be quarantined for 14 days and not have any access to transportation for those 14 days.  Where this happens and who pays the bill is an open topic.

 

So we get back to the safety of cruising. While one might be able to cautiously deal with the thousands of others on that vessel, they have zero control if anyone else on that ship has COVID.  At home you might be in the same vicinity as a COVID person and never know as you simply move along and continue with a life.  But a ship can become like a prison (just ask those who were on the fated Diamond Princess cruise) for everyone with the individual having no control over their own freedom.  Perhaps "safety" is the wrong term and we should be talking about the potential of being stuck on a "prison ship."    Nothing in the currently discussed protocols effectively deal with the issue of what happens to the thousands of other folks (even if everyone is healthy) on a ship when there is a COVID event.  And therein lies the huge problem. 

 

Hank

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1 hour ago, bigrednole said:

Everyone is permitted an opinion. I like to do comparisons. If I take 5,000 people, put them on a remote island, with no media or news, and just entertainment and fun, none of them would have a thought about Covid and none of them would even be worried about contracting it. Take 1,000 people to the grocery store, no pre-test for covid, wear mask, and social distance, 1 of them will have contracted Covid 19 within a week. 

Demonstrably false, unless each of the 5,000 island vacationers has quarantined for 2+ weeks before being transported to the island without contact with anyone who hasn't also quarantined.

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No need to quarantine if no one has it. It is simple fact. If the virus does not exist, it cannot spread. As in my grocery store example, according to the government 3 out of every 100 people going there has it. The number is probably even higher because most people have no symptoms and never tested. People are choosing to live. 

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If no one has it, no one gets it.  We all understand. How do you know no one has it? Quick tests aren't foolproof, with a false negative rate on the order of 20%

Let's assume your number, that 3% of the population is walking around infected, infectious and asymptomatic. Based on COVID testing positivity rates that might be accurate, especially in hard hit states, but propose any number you'd like. Now put 5000 people on a island. 3% of passengers means that 150 passengers will show up unaware that they are infectious. No problem, we'll test everyone. Oops, 30 positive passengers test negative even though they're infectious (and another, I don't know - 2 or 3? might have picked up the virus while traveling from home to the island and won't even be shedding virus of their own for 5 or 6 days).

There is really no difference between people going to the grocery and people going to an island, aside from the fact that people boarding the cruise ship have generally been mixing more with the population at large just getting to the island.

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On 10/12/2020 at 3:16 PM, captainjak said:

"People are choosing to live."  What does that specifically mean?  

 

It means that people are willing to live and enjoy despite Covid. They are not going to be hermits stuck in their house indefinitely. Even people in assisted living homes are protesting that they are willing to die from Covid than die from loneliness. Since Covid is not going anywhere, an effective vaccine won't be around for years, it is time to start choosing how you are going to live with Covid. It is the same as you lived through the HIV days as well. It is here, it is not going anywhere. Each person has to assess their own personal risk level, take precautions, and choose to live. If your method of living is being hunkered down in a hole, then that is how you live. Others want to live life to the fullest and be happy doing things.

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I think a better statement than "People are choosing to live" might have been "people are making personal choices as to the risk they want to take"  which is the case with life in general.  We all take risk every time we get in out car or walk across a busy street.  

 

Many personal risks, such as  skydiving or deep scuba diving, or smoking (in places where others aren't around), are risks that have potentially negative consequence to only YOU.  What I think a large segment of the general public fails to comprehend fully when making those choices, is taking risks related to an infectious disease is also putting OTHER people at risk without them being able to have any say in the decision.  If you chose to put yourself in an basically enclosed environment without a mask with a large group of people for an extended period of time, contracted the disease and were contagious without symptoms (which is very possible), you then put others at risk that you come into close contact with thereafter.

 

  There was a story on the news for example, of a man in Texas who chose to take the risk by having a party at his house.  Several of the people at the party contracted the disease, including two family members that died. In the interview, he said if he had to do it over again he would of course not have held the party.  

 

So, yes, it is unrealistic to think with the current statistics, everyone should not leave their home but that is obviously one extreme.  But there needs to be a balance between personal RESPONSIBILITY to the well being of your fellow human beings and "choosing to live."  

Since no one alive basically has any experience going through something of this magnitude it is understandable that many people are making risky decisions which are essentially self-centered without regard for the potential risk to the larger community.  That is unfortunate and short sighted.  It is partially the failure of leadership (some intentional) in various parts of the world to fully educate and remind the public that their seemingly personal risk decisions can have a much larger affect on the health of others and in-turn a negative affect on the economy.   

 

"an effective vaccine won't be around for years"  How do you know this?

Edited by captainjak

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On 10/12/2020 at 3:16 PM, captainjak said:

"People are choosing to live."  What does that specifically mean?  

 

I am thinking if you do not know the answer would not be useful.

 

Hank

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