There’s no doubt that Omicron is spreading much more rapidly than other Covid variants. Just look at the thousands of flights airlines have had to cancel because flight crew are out sick and they don’t have enough employees on reserve.

Most people I know have either caught it or have a close family member or friend who has. Seven of my neighbors here in Los Angeles have tested positive for Covid this week but fortunately, they’ve all been vaccinated and have had mild cases.

One segment of the travel industry that’s gaining worldwide attention right now is cruise ships. According to TIME: “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection identified 89 cruise ships with COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, nearly all of which have met the threshold for a formal investigation. Of the 86 cruise ships under investigation by the CDC, Carnival operates 32, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. operates 25 and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. operates 15. Four ships operated by Walt Disney Co.’s Disney Cruise Line are now also under watch, according to the CDC website. The list is rapidly changing and the next stage for ships with outbreaks could involve taking additional public health measures.”

This has garnered the attention of Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, who just tweeted a similar story from The Washington Post, with the statement: “Our warnings have proved sadly prescient & continuously compelling. Time for CDC & cruise lines to protect consumers & again pause—docking their ships. Cruises are repeating recent history as petri dishes of COVID infection.”

That caught the attention of Carnival’s spokesperson Roger Frizzell, who is quoted in MarketWatch as saying: “Our enhanced health and safety protocols have proven to be effective in our sailings over the past year since we restarted guest operations. These include vaccinations, extensive testing, masks and much more.”

I’ve been on dozens of cruises and love them but haven’t been on any in the past two years. I turned down multiple invitations since I have two little ones and didn’t want to risk being stuck at sea or confined to a small cabin. However, I have plenty of friends who say they feel safer cruising than they do going to a grocery store, restaurant or airport because they know everyone has been vaccinated or is tested. Also, cruise ships have HEPA filters and of course fresh air while out on the decks.

Stewart Chiron, a cruise expert, tweeted: ‘Numbers speak for themselves’ and said in an interview that reports show infections continue to affect less than 3% of passengers.

Others coming to the defense of cruise lines are David Swanson (@DavidHSwanson), veteran travel writer and past-president of SATW, Society of American Travel Writers. David has a compelling argument: “Why single out cruise lines, where protocols for testing and quarantine are established? If you really want to minimize travel-related outbreaks, start with airports, casino resorts, theme parks, shopping malls — places where the unvaccinated wander unmasked and testing is rare.”

 


Another prolific cruise writer, Aaron Saunders, who tweets from the handle @deckchairblog says: “To those slagging off cruise ships: ships have vaccine requirements. Testing protocols. Masking rules and HEPA-filtered HVAC systems. US domestic travel is the Wild West by comparison. Your flight crew may now even be able to return to work only five days after having COVID. 🤦‍♂️”

I totally understand both sides of the argument. I think the problem with cruising is that passengers are so confined to small places and while Omicron tears through, it might be smart to pause cruises for a couple of weeks since according to data from South Africa, this variant goes as fast as it comes and who wants to be aimlessly sailing at sea when ports or countries don’t want to let you in. Not me. You?

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7 Comments On "Should the U.S. Pause Cruising? A Senator is Urging the CDC to Do So"
  1. heidi charest|

    This is simply horrible. Like a Stephen King Movie . Covid is not going to go away.
    Cancelling sailings and closing down bars/restaurants/shops/amusement parks and canceling flights worldwide and forcing people to wear masks ( by the way i wear masks where required ) is absurd. We all know what we have to do. Some people chose not to follow protocol. It is their choice. If you personally do not feel comfortable in any situation.. then do what’s best for YOU.

  2. Anthony Bober|

    Unfortunately, Senator Richard Blumenthal has an insignificant amount of credibility. His most recent attendance at a Communist Party awards event where he was a speaker and his proposal of a ban of toy guns for children are silly. Maybe if Dr. Fauci made similar comments about cruising and it was supported by data, I might pay attention.

  3. c. dillon|

    Causing she cruise ship industry to simply “shut down” is absolutely ridiculous! There is no reason for that and all that would come from that, is injury to the cruise ship industry. Why not go ahead and shut down, planes, trains, taxis, ubers, etc., etc.

    There is no need to single out any one industry, especially when their track record is better than most other industries.

  4. Evelyn|

    In response to “… who wants to be aimlessly sailing at sea when ports or countries don’t want to let you in. Not me. You?”, I say, if you’re cruising now, you have to expect changes to ports, including countries not allowing the ship into a given port. If you’re not flexible, and willing to sail for, let’s say, 7 days without being able to port due to unexpected country regulations, then this is not the time for you to sail. For me, at least now, the ship has to be the destination. And with that attitude, I have safely sailed 6 times since June, and plan on doing 5 more before May 2022. Maybe Royal Caribbean, NCL and Carnival need to look at how how full their ships are. Maybe it’s too soon to increase capacity like they have been doing. But to shut down cruising is ridiculous, in my opinion.

  5. Mo|

    It looks like the perfect opportunity to do some serious study. A fully vaccinated, contained environment, yet the virus spreads. A cruise line(s) should recruit an equal cohort of non-vaccinated and study the outcomes – another could do the general, mixed population. It would be fascinating.
    I would not be in favor of a shut down.

  6. Marilyn|

    Closing down the cruise industry again is preposterous. Those of us who care about protecting ourselves surely know how by now whenever we leave our homes…at the bank, the grocery store, the doctor’s office, etc. Perhaps a better idea is closing down Washington, D.C. for that is truly the petri dish of which the Senator speaks!!

  7. Lynda Cook|

    We took a HAL Panama Canal cruise in October, and as far as I know there were no Covid outbreaks. Two of our stops were canceled, which did not surprise me.
    All staff and cruisers were fully vaccinated and we all had to have a clear PCR test before boarding. I think there were fewer than half the normal load. I got a case of food poisoning and was tested 4 times during the week. Standard testing of all passengers and staff were scheduled twice.
    What you have to realize if you’re cruising now, is that food and entertainment are not up to pre-pandemic standards. Partly from staff shortages and partly due to the supply crunch we were in the middle of.
    Another thing cruisers need to remember is if they leave the ship they are subject to the health status of the ports. We took only 2 excursions, both thru the ship so we were only around others who were fully vaccinated. Not my preferred way to travel, but we felt it to be the safest.

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