During the pandemic, cruise ships acquired a certain degree of infamy, courtesy of the early days of the pandemic when many innocent vacationers were stranded at sea. They were totally oblivious to the fact that an ultra-transmittable virus was sweeping across the planet as they embarked on their trip. The CDC’s research also showed that certain cruises were the “perfect storm” for viral infections. It highlighted something that many passengers didn’t think about: cruise ships are excellent breeding grounds for viruses.
The CDC warns that COVID is easily transferred throughout planes and ships because passengers are packed together within the limited space.
“This implies that all four of you should be fully immunized and bolstered before departure,” says Jessica Justman, an infectious diseases expert at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
According to the CDC, a single booster is necessary for those aged 5 years and up, while people over 50 should receive a second one. Those aged 12 who are immunocompromised must check in with their doctor to see what would be appropriate.
“I advise completing all booster doses at least two weeks, and one week, before the trip begins,” Justman advises. She also suggests contacting CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships to determine whether your ship has opted into it.
“The number of inpatient beds and more importantly the medical staff that are on board, as well as how many passengers, are facts that would be interesting to compare,” Justman adds. “One could verify that the cruise follows standards such as those defined by the American College of Emergency Physicians’ cruise ship health care guidelines.”
As for how to keep safe once you’ve departed, Justman advises going out of your way to having a meal outside as often as possible. Given that many COVID instances are asymptomatic, avoiding individuals who appear sick may not be possible.
“Outside food is often available for breakfast and lunch,” she adds. “When you dine inside, minimize the amount of time your mask is off – that is, as soon as you’ve finished your meal, put your mask back on.”
If someone contracts the illness on board, they must be isolated or, if necessary, transferred to a neighboring medical center.