Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cruising Update March 28th

  • Introduction
  • Diamond Princess CDC Report
  • The Zaandam
  • Celebrity Eclipse
  • The MV Artania

The cruising industry has always been the focus of sensational reporting way back before the Titanic sank. Not sure why this is? The first in a series of disaster movies was the fictional story of the ocean liner Poseidon and the Titanic lives on, even today, in movies and exhibits after a hundred years.

Norovirus can sweep through a public school with only a mention in local news but on a cruise ship the story goes viral (no pun intended) nationwide.

Regular travelers know there are some risks related to international travel with medical emergencies being one area of concern. While cruise ships have their own special issues, what is happening now is a form of hysteria that seems to be gripping governments especially. A month ago airliners were disgorging tens of thousands of people, many carrying the virus all over the world, while governments fixated on cruise ships coming into their ports.

The speed with which this virus is spreading is the real crisis. The current pandemic is serious, primarily because people in large numbers can quickly spread the disease without ever really knowing they are ill. That simple fact is the emergency and cruise ships are no more or less susceptible to it than anyplace else. The COVID-19 is causing a special problem for the cruise industry mainly because of the way authorities are reacting specifically to their ships.

The Diamond Princess became a disaster mostly because of the decisions the Japanese officials made and governments are continuing to make similar decisions today. Here is our current report on COVID-19 and the cruise industry.

The CDC Reports On The Diamond Princess

Based on investigations by the CDC and Japanese health officials we now have some small idea as to how a cruise ship spreads the coronavirus to 700 people.

We know that one elderly man brought the coronavirus onboard in mid January when he was already symptomatic but that doesn’t begin to explain how it spread through the passengers and crew as quickly as it did.

While how the disease spread was a mystery, fueling a wide amount of speculation running rampant the CDC’s study provides some fairly clear information.

It states “Because the first detected cases occurred among passengers who became symptomatic on January 22 and 23, COVID-19 was likely transmitted first from the original passenger to crew members and likely spread among the crew, especially among food service workers.”

The report continues: “The earliest laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases in crew members occurred in food service workers; 15 of the 20 confirmed cases in crew members occurred among food service workers who prepared food for other crew members, and 16 of the 20 cases occurred among persons with cabins on deck 3, the deck on which the food service workers lived.”

A survey of crew members conducted on February 9 resulted in 31 of them reporting a fever, 20 of those were food service workers. Eight of those 20 workers shared cabins, five of those cabin mates would later test positive for coronavirus.

COVID-19 has been called the unseen enemy and that is proving very true. The primary reason that it spread through the Diamond Princess so quickly and efficiently is because people did not appear sick or if they had symptoms they were so mild as to be taken for an allergy or nothing of any concern.

The Zaandam

Holland America’s Zaandam sailed March 7 from Buenos Aries, Argentina for a 14-day cruise around South America ending in Valparaiso, Chile.

After being denied entry to a number of closed ports the ship was denied entry into Valparaiso. Days after the passengers were supposed to be back on land, four people are dead, two have just tested positive for coronavirus and 138 passengers and crew are reporting flu-like symptoms.

Now the Zaandam is anchored off Panama with no clear idea of where it can go. Holland America’s Rotterdam has now reached it with provisions including medical supplies and tests. There are plans underway to transfer healthy passengers to the Rotterdam

It was denied passage through the Panama Canal, is receiving medical supplies and medical personnel from another Holland America ship, the Rotterdam, and the company planned to begin transferring healthy passengers to that ship.

A statement from Holland America said “Priority for the first guests to transfer will be given to those on Zaandam with inside staterooms and who are over 70”. There are 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board the Zaandam.

Late Friday the 27th, the Panama Maritime Authority released a statement that 401 passengers not showing symptoms of the virus would be transferred to the Rotterdam. It said medical supplies had beien delivered to the Zaandam until midnight and then the shipments would resume Saturday.

The Panama Maritime Authority “deeply regrets these deaths, as well as the complex situation the passengers and crew of the Zaandam are going through,” their statement said.

Celebrity Eclipse

After Chile closed its ports to cruise ships, Celebrity Eclipse was unable to disembark passengers. With no signs of the virus onboard the ship is scheduled to sail to San Diego, where passengers and crew will be allowed to disembark around March 27, subject to health screenings.

The MV Artania

The MV Artania (previously the Royal Princess) is a cruise ship chartered since 2011 by Phoenix Reisen, a German-based travel agency.

keep calm and carry on

Australian authorities announced that there had been a coronavirus outbreak on board when it docked in Perth. State officials who conducted examinations on board the ship concluded later Saturday, the 28th that only 46 people needed to be be tested for the virus, comprising 30 passengers and 16 crew.

They are now moving ahead with plans to fly 800 cruise ship passengers to Germany this weekend on four charter flights after a downward revision in the number of people on board who needed to be tested for the coronavirus.

For one, I’m ready to go cruising again as soon as this madness is over!

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