The Big Cruise Lines Have Big Problems Too
Because the cruise lines are so large and carry so many people each year, a large amount of cruise ship mishaps, illnesses, injuries and accidents occur on Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean.
Does that mean these cruise lines are any less safe? Are their safety guidelines and protocols less stringent? Does executive management, the ship captains and crew any less focused on passenger safety. Likely not. The popularity of these cruise lines, the amount of people vacationing, the larger amount of crew on each ship and the frequency in which these vessels sail all contribute to an increased likelihood that accidents will happen. These cruise ships are small, floating cities. Sickness and virus can readily grow quickly. Slip and fall accidents may occur just like they would if you were in your home city and were the victim of an accident.
Lawsuits filed against cruise lines for being unsanitary or unsafe conditions can be successful and settlements and verdicts are often tied to the severity of injuries, their extensiveness and their potential lifelong impact upon a passenger.
Mega Ship Line #: Norwegian Cruise Line
Known for its colorful ships, Norwegian Cruise Line first broke into the mega-ship category in 2010 with the launch of Norwegian Epic, which can carry just over 5,000 passengers at full occupancy, and the company has since introduced five others in the Breakaway and Breakaway-Plus classes. The crowd aboard these vessels, which primarily sail in North America, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean, often consists of families who take advantage of amenities like waterparks, virtual-reality gaming, and go-kart racing, though the cruise lines newest ship, Norwegian Bliss, has a decidedly more mature atmosphere. In November 2019, Norwegian launched the newest member of its fleet, Norwegian Encore, which is the most luxurious of its mega-ships.
The Cruise Industry Says Its Safer Than Other Vacations Heres What Covid
Carnival Cruise Line’s Sunrise and Vista ships, along with the MSC Meraviglia, are shown docked at PortMiami in February.
When the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, there was practically no worse place to be than a cruise ship. Today, as COVID-19 still lingers around the world, cruise industry leaders are making a bold claim: Cruising is not only safe, but its safer than other kinds of travel and vacations.
Public health experts consulted by the Miami Herald agreed to some extent, but with caveats.
At the SeaTrade cruise conference last month in Miami Beach, Florida, the industrys largest gathering, executives promoted their ships as the safest vacation option, based on the fact that they can mandate vaccines and testing, compared with vacations where travelers take airplanes, stay in hotels and dine at restaurants.
There will be no safer way of traveling once we truly start cruising, said Emre Sayin, the CEO of Global Ports Holding, the worlds largest cruise port operator. And that will become an advantage.
The claim was echoed by many other industry leaders at the conference. Richard Fain, the CEO of Royal Caribbean, said, Unlike almost any other place you can think of whether its restaurants, hotels, entertainment venues … we control the environment. Arnold Donald, the CEO of Carnival Corporation, agreed, stating that their safety protocols were much more rigorous than equivalent or similar land-based activities.
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Cruise Ships Are Like Floating Cites
Many crimes on cruise ships go unreported and therefore are not necessarily publicized, except for those cruise ships that sail to and from US Ports–such as Jacksonville, Port Canaveral, Port Everglades, or the Port of Miami–because the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act requires that those cruise lines report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation all missing persons and certain alleged criminal activity. The US Coast Guard then publishes a quarterly report without regard to the investigative status of the incidents.
Of the 92 alleged on-board crimes reported by cruise lines in 2016, 62 were sexual assaults most terrifyingly, nearly one third of sexual assault victims on cruise ships are reportedly minors. Criminal prosecution is complicated and rarely occurs, especially when jurisdictional issues arise over the rapes occurring in international waters or committed by foreign passengers and on cruise ships that are often registered under flags-of-convenience, such as the Bahamas or Malta.
Cruises Are ‘a Recipe For Transmission’
Even on a good day outside of the pandemic, cruises are challenging environments from an infection-control standpoint, Ostrosky says.
On a cruise, you often spend time in shared common areas. You eat and drink indoors at buffet restaurants with large communal tables, attend shows in theaters and touch all kinds of surfaces, from railings to casino games. If an outbreak happens at sea, you’re restricted to the boat, which can make the outbreak harder to contain and treat.
“It’s just a recipe for transmission,” Ostrosky says. That’s why it’s common to see outbreaks of other contagious respiratory or gastrointestinal viruses, like norovirus, aboard cruises.
Cruises are even particularly risky when compared to other types of travel, like driving or flying, because they present more opportunities for prolonged exposure. “Frankly, the risk on a two-hour flight where everyone is masked and airflow is good is than being on a cruise ship for five days straight,” says Dr. Preeti Malani, chief health officer at the University of Michigan.
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Large Ship Line #: Norwegian Cruise Line
Things escalated quickly for Norwegian: the cruise line jumped from medium-size ships to mega-ships practically overnight , with just three ships in its current fleet sized somewhere in between. But thats soon about to change. Norwegian currently has six ships on order as part of Project Leonardo, each of which will hold about 3,300 passengers. Its interesting to see a cruise line scale back from its mega-ships and opt for a more manageable size for such a large order. The first, Norwegian Prima, is expected to launch in 2022 some of its highlights include the fastest slides at sea , a three-level go-kart racetrack, and a three-story theater that transforms into a nightclub after the evening’s show.
Small Ship Line #: American Cruise Lines
American Cruise Lines has the unique distinction of operating not only old-school paddlewheelers in the United States, but also contemporary river ships. And they dont just sail on the Mississippiyou can also explore the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the Pacific Northwest, too. Beyond that, the 15-strong fleet also has oceangoing vessels that explore the coasts surrounding the entire country, from New England to Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico. The newest ship, American Melody, set sail in August 2021 and will spend its inaugural season on the Mississippi River.
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What One Cruise Line Is Doing To Keep Guests Safe On Cruises
Azamara, a boutique cruise line with a focus on Destination Immersion experiences, has unveiled their plan on how they will keep guests safe when they resume cruises this summer.
The cruise line is implementing new health standards on their cruise ships by launching their Explore Well at Sea program. Azamara took guidance from the Healthy Sail Panel so they can offer a safe and healthy cruise experience.
Here are the highlights of Azamaras Explore Well at Sea program. The cruise line will continue to evaluate these protocols and update them as public health standards and the global situation evolves. Booked guests and travel partners will be advised of the latest requirements prior to voyage departure.
Testing & Screening: All guests will be required to be fully vaccinated two weeks prior to sailing, as an added layer of protection to keep guests and crew safe, in addition to providing a negative SARS-CoV-2 test result. Once aboard, complimentary COVID-19 testing and medical evaluations will be available.
Air Filtration: With new HVAC filtration systems, the air indoors aboard each of Azamaras cruise ships is comparable to the fresh sea air. This advanced filtration system takes in fresh sea air and moves it through a two-stage filter, plus copper coils, to eliminate 99.99% of germs, making the transmission of aerosol particles between spaces extremely low to virtually impossible.
Small Ship Line #1: Star Clippers
Star Clippers has a fleet of three ships, with its flagship Royal Clipper holding the record as the worlds largest full-rigged sailing ship. All three are sailing yachts, unfurling their sails for itineraries across the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Southeast Asia, with classic exteriors and interiors featuring several bars, a swimming pool, library, and formal dining room.
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Vessel Sanitation Program: Health Inspections For Cruise Ships
Many people dont realize it, but the Centers for Disease Control operates the Vessel Sanitation Program .
This program is essentially a health inspection for cruise ships. Just like a restaurant in your town would be checked by a health inspector, ships sailing from the United States are also checked out on a regular basis. These inspections are done without prior knowledge by the cruise line.
In particular, the CDC inspections focus on eight areas:
- Medical facilities
- Ventilation systems
- Common areas
Cruise ships overall do well on these inspections. Scores are on a 100-point scale and anything less than 86 is considered unsatisfactory. If a ship scores below this mark, they have the chance to correct the issues and be re-inspected.
Scoring below an 86 only happens on occasion across dozens and dozens ships. Instead, most ships score well into the 90s on their inspections.
The good news for cruise passengers is not only do ships score well when inspected, but the results are also published publicly. You can visit the CDC website and see the scores and reports for more than 200 vessels. Each report is also complete with a write-up of any issues found. No doubt any cruise ship you are sailing on will have their latest report listed.
Now, while ships tend to score well, there are some lines that seem to do better than others on a consistent basis.
The 3 Cleanest Cruise Lines According To The Cdc
According to the CDC data, here are the three cruise lines that scored the highest average scores on their latest inspection reports:
Viking Ocean Cruises When it comes to passing CDC inspections, Viking Ocean Cruises takes the top honor. With five ships, every Viking cruise ship scored well on their latest inspections. Three ships Viking Sea, Viking Sky, and Viking Star scored a perfect 100. The Viking Orion scored a 97 and the Viking Sun scored a 95. Taken together, the five scores come out to a 98.4 average inspection score, making Viking the cleanest cruise line based on inspection scores.
Seabourn While Viking Ocean Cruises took top honors, Seabourn wasnt far behind. The average score on this luxury cruise line was a 98.3. One thing to note is that the CDC only inspects ships sailing from the United States. If a ship doesnt come to the U.S. often, it could be longer before another inspection. As a result, many of Seabourns most recent inspections were years ago, including two from 2017. Still, it has solid inspection scores, including a perfect 100 for the Seabourn Quest and Seabourn Odyssey on their most recent inspections.
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Events That Affect Guest Safety Are Incredibly Rare
Scrutiny regarding safety starts with ship design and testing. Its further reinforced by global safety regulations that outline emergency procedures and protocols, and ongoing inspections to make sure procedures are being followed.
There are also systems on board to detect potential safety issues almost before they start. Systems can even detect when a passenger or crew member falls overboard.
In addition, according to Kennedy, CLIA and its cruise-line members are constantly working to improve safety by reviewing operational procedures with top maritime and transportation experts.
The combination of technological advancements and a continuous dedication to safety means that when cruising is compared against other transportation means, cruising is much safer.
Given the number of cruise ships that are at sea all the time, and the number of cruisers who are traveling every year, the incidence of events affecting guest safety are incredibly rare, says McDaniel.
In 2017, the last time comparisons were made, the U.S. cruise industry had a 0.06 passenger fatality rate per billion passenger miles traveled*. That compares to:
- 0.73 for domestic commercial airlines
- 7.4 for domestic passenger cars
- 8.8 for domestic rail passenger travel
Its not sexy news when a cruise goes off and everybody has a great time and enjoys time with their family and great entertainment and amazing food, McDaniel says. But thats what happens the vast majority of the time.
Small Ship Line #: Windstar Cruises
The lines six shipsthree sailing yachts and three all-suite motor yachtsspecialize in visiting ports that ban larger ships, like the Byzantine hilltop town of Monemvasia in the Greek Islands, and the sleepy, palm-fringed Caribbean island of Bequia. Those smaller ports can give a sense of intimacy that isn’t always present in the most common cruise destinations, allowing for wholly different experiences. In 2017, Windstar also became the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation, introducing further special itineraries with culinary themes and guest chefs.
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Flexibility When You Need It
Know that weve got your back. Cancel up to 48 hours before your departure for any reason at all and get 100% of the value back in a Future Cruise Credit you can use towards any sailing you like*. And if you or someone in your travel party test positive for COVID-19 before your cruise, get a 100% cruise fare refund.*
*Sailing must depart on or before May 31, 2022.Cruise with Confidence program applies to bookings made on or before January 31, 2022 additional terms and conditions apply. COVID-19 Assistance conditioned upon compliance with the RCG COVID-19 Policies and Procedures in effect at the time of the cruise. To qualify for a refund, you must present your verified positive test result in a form acceptable to Royal Caribbean. Additional terms and conditions apply. See our COVID-19 Refund and Cancellations Policy and your Cruise Ticket Contract for details.
Your Questions Answered:
Vaccination Status Matters A Lot
Many ships are sailing with a vaccine requirement as they restart operations. Even those that arent requiring passengers to be vaccinated will ask about your status as part of an extensive health screening.
In the United States, those with at least 95 percent of passengers and crew fully vaccinated are allowed to relax safety rules. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, operators of those cruises may advise passengers and crew that they do not have to wear a mask or maintain physical distance in any areas.
If fewer than 95 percent of passengers are vaccinated on a ship, there may be areas designated for those who have gotten the shot. In those vaccinated-only areas, passengers can go without a mask. But in other indoor areas where all passengers are together, both vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers may have to wear masks unless they are eating and drinking. Those who are not vaccinated also have to pay for extra tests.
The CDC recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated avoid cruise travel.
Although she is vaccinated, McDaniel had to wear a mask in many indoor venues on Freedom of the Seas, which sailed from Miami with both vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers.
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Medium Ship Line #: Silversea Cruises
Silverseas fleet has 10 ships, of which just three are technically medium-sized, with passenger counts around 600 peoplebut thats considered quite a large number for the luxurious cruise line, which specializes in smaller expedition vessels. Silversea Moon, which debuted in 2021, and its sister Silversea Muse are the largest, each carrying up to 596 passengers. The line sails to more than 900 destinations around the world.
Michael Osterholm Md Phd Hsp Panelist
Dr. Michael Osterholm is one of the foremost experts in public health, infectious disease and biosecurity. As director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research at the University of Minnesota, he is an international leader on pandemics preparedness. He is a consultant to the WHO, NIH, FDA, DoD and CDC. From 2001 to 2005, he served as an advisor to the Secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services on issues related to bioterrorism and public health preparedness. From 2018 to 2019, he served as a Science Envoy for Health Security on behalf of the U.S. State Department. He has also been appointed to the National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity and the World Economic Forums working group on pandemics.
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From Buffets To Silent Discos Much Has Changed On Covid
Cruises have been back in business in North America since last month but operations are still far from normal.
And while cruises have been sailing in other parts of the world for months now, more lines are returning to service all over, including many that are allowing Americans to fly overseas and board in places such as Greece and Iceland.
As ships venture out from the Caribbean, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Galveston, Tex., and Seattle, those who make their living writing about or selling cruises have spent extra time on the water for the past several weeks. Many have already sailed on two or three voyages.
It feels like Ive been on ships about every other week since June 4, said Colleen McDaniel, editor in chief of Cruise Critic, a news and review site. This is kind of a breakneck pace.
Those who have spent time back on ships are fielding a lot of questions about what its like on board what the mask rules are, the fate of buffets, and what they can and cant do on land. Based on interviews with seven people who have each taken at least two cruises, here is what potential passengers can expect.