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Monday, September 6, 2021

COVID-positive vaccinated passenger medevaced from Royal Caribbean's ship Harmony of the Seas in Italy

On September 1, 2021 a passenger on board Harmony of the Seas was transferred to a hospital in La Spezia Italy after he complained of symptoms of COVID-19.  The vaccinated passenger boarded the ship on August 29, 2021 in Barcelona and shortly thereafter complained of symptoms consistent with the virus.    The day following a planned stop by the ship in Palma de Mallorca, it was arranged to have the passenger to be transported to the Sant’Andrea hospital in La Spezia. He was admitted into the infectious diseases ward and was accompanied by his wife who remained with him as the ship sailed on to the next port.  

According to the Italian newspaper Il Secolo XIX who reported this on September 2, 2021, Royal Caribbean required all guests over the age of eighteen to be vaccinated and test negative before boarding. The entire crew is vaccinated. The article states that the guests also “suffered from other important pathologies.” He tested negative for COVID-19 shortly before embarking the ship. No further updates have been given. 

After disembarking the infected guest, the Harmony called on ports in Civitavecchia (Rome) and Naples, Italy. There were no other public reports of COVID-19 infection among the crew or other guests. The ship returned to Barcelona tomorrow on September 5, 2021.

Carnival Cruiseline has had their own issues with COVID-positive passengers and one elderly passenger removed from a Carnival ship in Belize later died of the virus. 

Thinking of cruising? What can you do?

Good luck if you would like to know how many people infected with COVID-19 from being aboard cruise ships. Clearly you won't be provided that information by the cruise industry.  Fortunately, the CDC is making efforts to inform the public. 

USA Today initially reported in early August that the CDC updated its guidance to recommend travelers (departing from U.S. ports) who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 avoid cruise ships, regardless of their vaccination status. According to the CDC:

"CDC recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide. That’s because the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is high since the virus appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships. It is especially important for people with an increased risk of severe illness to avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises. CDC has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for cruise ship travelers who are not fully vaccinated."

The new CDC guidance applies to older adults (defined as 65 and older), people with certain medical conditions and pregnant and recently pregnant people. Prior to this announcement, the CDC recommended that only people who were not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 completely avoid cruise ships. 

A table on the CDC website, which promises to be updated several times a week, assigns each ship a color status—green, orange, yellow, red or gray. 

The color-coding is based on both surveillance data collected over the previous 7-day period as well as the findings of any CDC investigations. (When cruise ships notify the CDC of a suspected or confirmed case of the virus, the agency determines whether an investigation is needed.) 

  • Green status means the ship has no reports of cases of COVID-19 or COVID-19-like illness.
  • Orange status means the ship has reported cases of COVID-19 but is below the threshold for CDC investigation.
  • Yellow status means the ship has met the threshold for CDC investigation, which includes one of the following criteria:
    • at or above the investigation threshold for crew COVID-19 cases,
    • at or above the investigation threshold for passenger COVID-19 cases; or
    • state or local health department notified CDC of passenger COVID-19 cases occurring within 5 days of disembarkation.
  • Red status means the ship is at or above the threshold for passenger and crew COVID-19 cases. Based on CDC’s investigation, additional public health precautions, such as returning to port immediately or delaying the next voyage, will be taken to help ensure the health and safety of onboard travelers or newly arriving travelers.
  • Gray status means CDC has not reviewed or confirmed the cruise ship operator’s health and safety protocols. This status only applies to cruise ships arriving in, located within, or departing from a port in Florida that chose to not follow the CSO on a voluntary basis.
The major limitation of this system is that it only informs us about cruise ships operating or planning to operate in U.S. waters. For example, we cruised in Iceland during July 2021 on Viking Ocean and data on that line is not available.  Click here to see our series of videos from Iceland on YouTube. 

Click below to check out these combined vaccine card and passport covers at Amazon! You can use them to organize all the documents needed to travel internationally these days! 

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