Industry News

Global cessation by all cruise lines

March 2020 | JD Schwartz 

The rapid spread of CoronaVirus has shut down cruise line's operations globally. How soon the resumption of sailings will take place is anyone's guess. Thirty-days is seemingly not enough as ports around the world may opt to prevent ships from entering their ports. Here's an overview and how the shutdown evolved and where we are today:

*NOTE: Cruise ships are required to report to the port authority and associated government prior to entering that port any passengers, crew and staff that are ill, sick and/or injured.

The Yokahama Debacle

In all started to unravel when the Diamond Princess reported coronavirus cases among crew and passengers off Japan's coast "likely spread via workers who prepared food, a new investigation found" states a report filed by businessinsider.com.

"It took just six days for 20 crew members on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan to contract the coronavirus. A new investigation from Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases attributes these cases to the virus' initial spread among food workers before the ship was quarantined on February 3.

The researchers found that the virus was likely transmitted first to crew members from passengers who started showing symptoms on January 22 and 23. By February 3, the first crew member to test positive for the virus — a food-service worker — had developed a fever. 

Around 20 crew members tested positive by February 9. Fifteen of them were workers who prepared food for the rest of the crew. Most of them also lived on the ship's third deck, where a group of food-service workers lived.

The crew mainly congregated in a shared dining area that was off-limits to passengers, the investigation found. There, the workers may have passed the virus to one another through their respiratory droplets, such as saliva or mucus. 

Even after the ship was quarantined on February 3, some crew members continued to work to maintain essential operations. The director of Japan's Disease Control and Prevention Center, Norio Ohmagari, later told CNN that crew members should have been isolated just like passengers. 

"The quarantine process failed," Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told USA Today. "I'd like to sugarcoat it and try to be diplomatic about it, but it failed. People were getting infected on that ship. Something went awry."​ Around 3,700 people, including 2,600 passengers and 1,000 crew members, were quarantined on the ship for nearly a month.

For a forensic analysis of the Diamond Princess virus results, visit:

https://www.niid.go.jp/niid/en/2019-ncov-e/9407-covid-dp-fe-01.html

A False Positve

Soon after the Princess Cruise Line event, there were indications that Holland America Line's Westerdam had an infected passenger on board. Holland America Line consistently stated there was no evidence or indication of any cases or. "We believe the one positive result was a false-positive, as repeated testing of the guest had been negative and not a single other guest or crew member had been diagnosed with COVID-19.

This was affirmed Feb. 21 (local date) at a press conference by Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. He reiterated that “no viral infections have been found among the more than 2,000 passengers and crew of Westerdam.” He also declared that “justice is given to Cambodia and all the passengers on the ship" and only after the ship sailed through Asia being denied entry seeking a port to dock at until Cambodia relented granting permission to dock where all of the passengers were offloaded and flown home. 

A detailed statement of the Westerdam events can be found here:

 

Outbreak - Fast Forward

Multiple stories began to unfold as the news and virus spread amidst global awareness. On March 1st, Miami News Channel 6 reported "After being turned away by two Caribbean ports and being forced to dock in Mexico over fears of coronavirus, MSC Cruises Meraviglia returned to Miami with a clean bill of health. The fear that a crew member had contracted the disease was disproved after they were diagnosed with the common seasonal flu. MSC officials said they had the proper paperwork diagnosing the crew member but were still denied permission to dock in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands."

Cruise Lines Scramble to Disembark Passengers

Allan E. Jordan / The Maritime Executive.

The cruise industry is scrambling to bring all of its ships to port after the decision to pause operations in light of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19). Although most of the cruise ships at sea are not reporting health concerns, the continuing global fears and the closure of ports around the world are hampering the industry's efforts.

In what has been a very difficult set of circumstances, the cruise industry has been working diligently to complete its planned pause in operations. FCCA and CLIA said in their statement that they were confident that all current cruises would be concluded by March 30. 

Read the full story here.

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