Cruise Companies To Change Boarding Procedures After Second Ship Suffers Outbreak of COVID19 Among Passengers

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After the second COVID19 incident involving a cruise ship with thousands of passengers cruise lines have announced new boarding procedures for their sailings to protect passengers and crew.

The new guidelines came after the management of several cruise companies attended a high level meeting with government officials including the Vice President this weekend.

The discovery that a Grand Princess passenger apparently boarded the ship with an infection and then spreading the disease to other passengers onboard the ship that is currently in limbo off the California coast has lead to an overhaul of cruise boarding procedures as announced today.

USA Today reported that a meeting has taken place between the U.S. Government and cruise line management to lay out new policies.

Cruise companies will change how they board passengers after Princess Cruises said Saturday that a California man who died on Wednesday was likely infected with the coronavirus before he boarded the Grand Princess last month.

The discovery that a Grand Princess passenger apparently boarded the ship with an infection suggests that community spread began weeks before officials first diagnosed the nation’s first coronavirus case of unknown origin, also a California resident. …

The Grand Princess is the second Princess Cruises ship in recent weeks to be put in limbo due to the coronavirus. Last month, the Diamond Princess was held for nearly two weeks off the coast of Japan as officials figured out what to do with its passengers and crew. Of the roughly 2,700 passengers on board, more than 700 tested positive for coronavirus, and six died.

Earlier Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence and Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf met with officials from cruise companies in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and announced new procedures cruise operators will adopt to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus on their ships. …

Within the next 72 hours, the industry, with the assistance of the DHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Coast Guard, Pence said cruise operators will develop new guidelines in three areas:

  • Further enhancement of entry and exit screening and shipboard testing for the coronavirus.
  • New quarantine standards will be coordinated with the CDC for all cruise ships.
  • A protocol to move any patients that contract the coronavirus or otherwise become seriously ill to land-based facilities.

Pence said the approach to screening, testing and handling ill passengers and crew will be an industry-led effort. He added there was no need to discourage people from taking cruises, other than the most at-risk population — specifically senior citizens with serious, underlying health conditions. …

The Cruise Line Industry Association, a trade group, said in a statement it would provide more details about the new procedures in the coming days.

Something tells me that boarding a cruise ship will become even more of a hassle than it already is at the moment and one should pay close attention to the designated boarding times that are shown on your online check-in or travel documents.

Conclusion

My next cruise will be early May from Vancouver going up to Alaska and at this moment I’m firm on taking this trip as planned. I will however make sure that I bring sufficient time to the cruise terminal and also keep a proper travel insurance policy.

I’d never sail in anything else but a balcony cabin because if the worst happens and you’re confined to your cabin then at least a lot of daylight and fresh air makes a big difference. This isn’t specific to COVID but also the Norovirus which can sometimes hit a ship.

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