Is the cruise safer than other vacations?

Miami — When the pandemic broke out in the spring of 2020, nothing was worse than a cruise ship. Today, COVID-19 is still around the world, so cruise industry leaders are making bold claims. Cruising is not only safer, it is also safer than other types of travel and vacations.

Public health experts consulted by the Miami Herald have agreed to some extent, but be careful.

At the SeaTrade Cruise Conference last month at Miami Beach, the industry’s largest rally, executives board a plane to stay at a hotel and dine at a restaurant.

Emre Sayin, CEO of Global Ports Holding, the world’s largest cruise port operator, said: “And that would be an advantage.”

This claim was repeated at the conference by many other industry leaders. “Unlike most other places, such as restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues, we manage the environment,” said Richard Fain, CEO of Royal Caribbean. Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation, agreed that their safety protocol is “much more stringent than equivalent or similar land activities.”

In an interview with Herald, Virgin Voyages CEO Tom McAlpin said Richard Branson’s new cruise line was “safer than a hotel and safer than a grocery store.” Said.

Epidemiologists state that this claim has some truth. Closed environments, including cruises, are nearly safe if all passengers and crew are fully vaccinated. However, they did not declare it the “safest” travel option.

“This is not the safest vacation. Camping in the woods is the safest vacation option,” said Kathleen Posato, Head of Infection Prevention at the Jackson Health System. “Like everything else these days, there is a risk / benefit analysis that everyone must do when making decisions at this stage of the pandemic.”

Mr. Sposato also means that cruising is exposed to hundreds or thousands of people on board for longer periods of time compared to staying in a hotel on a plane, but domestic flights. Pointed out that it was only a matter of hours and there was much less interaction between hotel guests.

Some experts say that children under the age of 12 may not yet be vaccinated, the risk of passengers presenting a fake vaccine card, port of call conditions, and other issues that could hurt the cruise industry’s debate. Pointed out an exception.

“There is strong debate in the cruise industry, but the next question is that cruise ships visit other ports in other countries,” said Johns, who specializes in the spread of international infectious diseases and studied the outbreaks of norovirus and influenza. Dr. William Greenault of Hopkins said. On a cruise. “There’s the Rubble. How do they treat it? Passengers can come into contact with highly immunized foreigners.”

When a federal court upheld Norwegian Cruise Line in a lawsuit against the Florida Surgeon General after the state banned companies from requiring vaccines, paving the way for cruises requiring passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated. The cruise industry has won.

Dr. Jessica Justman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University Medical Center, advised potential passengers to read more about the COVID-19 safety protocol when choosing a cruise.

“The devil is in the details,” she said. “If I choose to cruise as a passenger, I want to understand exactly what the vaccine requirements are, how many exceptions there are to unvaccinated people, what are the test requirements, and how often they are repeated. I think. I all want more surveillance. “

Among the largest cruise operators, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean require full vaccination of all passengers over the age of 12 with some limited exceptions. On its website, MSC Cruises states that passengers who do not provide evidence of vaccination “must comply with the requirements of fully unvaccinated guests.” At Branson’s adult-only Virgin Voyages, all passengers require complete vaccination and are promptly tested upon boarding.

Justman said he advised his family to choose a cruise with very tight surveillance. Dr. Cindy Prince, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Florida, said the Delta variant discouraged families from joining cruises in August and September, but gave a green light to board in December. rice field.

Sposato, an infection prevention specialist at the Jackson Health System, said he would suggest that vacationers consider choosing something else.

“We’re trying to get over this, but maybe a year later it’s okay,” she said. “In my opinion, it’s an unnecessary risk, but I’m not addressing the mental health problems that many people have.”

Experts agreed that in an ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it is important for people to make informed decisions based on their level of personal health and comfort.

“We are in a pandemic stage and people need to choose the risks we want to take based on activities that are important to us,” Justman said. “If going on a cruise for a vacation is really important, approach it as carefully as possible.”

A cruise ship owned by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Norwegian Gem is moored in Port Miami, Miami, Florida on August 9, 2021. A federal judge upheld Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and ruled that passengers may be required to certify their vaccinations before boarding a Florida cruise ship.

This is what COVID-19 experts say

Is the cruise safer than other vacations?

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