The stories of COVID-19 spreading on cruise ships created scary circumstances for vacationers and crew members during the early days of infection in late February and March. Although the issues were slowly resolving by mid-April, 95,000 people were still stranded at sea in American waters because of the coronavirus.
Over 100 vessels were stuck without a port, forcing crews to stay at sea while passengers entered a 14-day stay in quarantine. Florida has 35 cruise ships and 35,000 people waiting for permission to disembark alone. Although the Coast Guard said that the agency would do its best to treat people during an emergency, an expectation that the cruise lines establish self-sufficiency protocols was also required.
How a Fun Vacation Turns Into a Nightmare
Some cruise ships spent over a month at sea because ports refused to accept passengers without prior testing. At one point, even the Panama Canal stopped taking boats through the passage.
Even when people were allowed to come back, it was still difficult for individuals to make it home. The CDC recommends that anyone who was on a cruise line should not share transportation with others who were not on the vessel. Commercial flights were forbidden. That means staying at a designated center or driving home.
Princess Cruises said that all crew on their fleet had to stay on board until a repatriation plan could get initiated. Traces of the coronavirus were found in cabins for up to 17 days after no one was on board, indicating how dangerous COVID-19 can be.
Cruises Are Now Suspended for Six Months or More
The world’s cruise ship providers have all suspended sailings for a significant time. Carnival has stopped all vessels through at least October except for Breeze, Dream, Elation, Freedom, Horizon, Magic, Sensation, and Vista. Those are currently scheduled to return at the end of July 2020.
Ports in Seattle and San Francisco report that some providers have canceled cruises for the remainder of the year.
Most providers are giving customers a future cruise credit of 125% if they transfer their booking to a new date. If you had a vacation planned, then a 100% refund of the amount paid is also possible.
It may be a while before the world is in a place where cruise ships can sail once again. The first step is going to be repatriating the tens of thousands of people stuck off of the American coast.