As cruise resumption plans continue to ramp up globally, many will be keeping an eye on the number of passengers that catch coronavirus on cruise ships in the months ahead.
While coronavirus cases are being tracked in countries across the world by national and global health authorities such as the WHO, there’s much less hard data available regarding the number of passengers that have caught COVID-19 while on a cruise.
According to the Miami Herald, at least 2,592 passengers contracted coronavirus prior to the global shut down of the cruise industry in March last year, but tracking the number of COVID cases on cruise ships since cruise lines began to restart operations in mid-2020 is more difficult.
Cruise Law News has been publishing a running commentary on new COVID cases aboard cruise ships since the pandemic emerged, and recently reported there had been 252 cases of COVID aboard cruise ships since March, 2020.
Cruise Arabia & Africa has also been tracking the monthly number of COVID cases on cruise ships, but has focused on coronavirus cases on cruises that set sail after the cruise industry began to reopen in August last year.
Whenever possible, the new COVID cases on cruise ships are categorized by whether it was a member of the crew or a passenger that was infected, as COVID-19 can often spread amongst the crew of a cruise ship that is not yet back in operation.
This data has been collated using news reports from outlets across the world, as many COVID-19 infections in cruise ships have only been reported by local media in the country in whose waters the ship was sailing at the time.
According to our data, there have been 224 COVID-19 infections on cruise ships since cruising resumed.
Cruise Ship COVID-19 Cases Since Resumption
This only includes ocean-going cruise ships, and does not take into account several COVID-19 outbreaks aboard river cruise ships, as these are less reliably reported in local and international media.
Of the (at least) 224 total infections at the time of writing, 87 were passengers, 121 were crew, and 16 weren’t designated as either. A running tally, updated daily, can be found here.
The latest outbreak aboard Carnival Vista is included, but the cruise line hasn’t said how many passengers tested positive, so we have based the number on the minimum threshold for a CDC investigation, which means the actual number is likely higher.
It’s important to keep these numbers in perspective, several hundred thousand cruise passengers have gone on a cruise in Europe and Asia since the cruise industry reopened in August last year (first in Europe, then in Asia, and most recently in the United States in June).
In addition, cruise lines have strict health and safety protocols intended to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spreading onboard, including social distancing, mask wearing, COVID testing before, during and at the end of the cruise and contact tracing.
While each cruise line’s protocols are different, all include some aspects of this overall approach, which has prevented COVID-19 cases from running out of control on those cruise ships aboard which it has been reported thus far.
We’ve previously reported on whether it’s safe to go on a cruise in the current COVID-19 environment, and while that’s a decision personal to each cruise passengers, its important to be armed with the right facts and information to make an informed decision.