CDC reports nearly 1,400 Covid cases on U.S. cruise ships from July to October

According to the CDC, 1,359 Covid-19 cases that have been confirmed in laboratory testing were reported by cruise ships departing from U.S. ports this summer.
These numbers include passengers and crew who were sailing between June 26th and Oct. 21. They were disclosed as part of the CDC's decision for extending the Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) until Jan. 15.

The agency said that 49 cases needed hospitalization and 38 required medical evacuations. CLIA stated that 600,000 passengers were able to sail from U.S. ports in June and October. Crew members are not included in that estimate.

Royal Caribbean reported last week during its third quarter business update that it had carried half a billion passengers from the U.S. ports. It also received 150 Covid cases at 0.03%.

Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, stated today during the third quarter update that "the prevalences of cases identified during preboarding testing, midcruise, and at debarkation was inconsequential" and that this is in contrast to what they saw in the general population. Passenger and crew are guaranteed 100% vaccination under the NCLH brands.

According to the CDC, it was difficult for passengers to be infected even though cruise lines had implemented strict protocols to prevent Covid-19 introduction. There have been several cases of passengers being symptomatic at embarkation, and then denying their symptoms to the cruise lines. Or passengers being symptomatic for several weeks onboard the ship before reporting symptoms to the medical centre.

The CDC stated that the high vaccination rates aboard these cruise ships could explain why there are not enough resources at the onboard medical centers.

The January expires Conditional Sailing Order

Fain and Del Rio both said that the CDC's decision in January to switch to a voluntary program after the CSO expires was a positive sign that its protocols are working.

Del Rio stated that "we are willing to go great lengths for our guests and communities we visit." He also said that the CDC's decision making the program voluntary effective Jan. 15 was "a positive move forward for our company" and "a positive step towards the industry." We were encouraged by the positive recognition of the successful resumption cruising and the efforts made to improve our already strict safety and health protocols in response to Covid-19. These protocols are more thorough and comprehensive than any other travel, leisure, or hospitality sector.