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Cruise Travel and COVID

Copernicus

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The CDC recently removed most health safety restrictions on cruise ships, and the cruise industry rushed to take advantage of that. No more masks for passengers, and even vaccination requirements are being dropped where port destinations do not require them. Although my wife and I have never had COVID before, we decided to risk a quick 7-day cruise from Seattle to Alaska just to get out of the house. We knew that masks were optional, except for the crew, but we still decided we would be reasonably safe if we kept wearing masks. That worked well in the past, but not this time. By the end of the cruise, we were the only passengers still wearing masks. That made us stand out, but we didn't care. At least the crew were all wearing masks.

We sailed on the Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas, which had roughly 4,000 passengers. To our surprise, almost no one was masked up or making an effort to keep social distance. There was a lot of singing, shouting, revelry--everyone having a good time. Still, we wore masks almost everywhere. Unfortunately, masks are more for effective against spreading the disease to others than protecting against infection. So I ended up testing positive when we got home, although my wife did not. I've never had COVID before, so now I have to quarantine and hope that it won't develop into long COVID. The doctor wrote a prescription for Paxlovid, although he said it might actually do more harm than good. Paxlovid can lead to relapses, and all it does is prevent the spread of the virus in the body. It doesn't actually kill the virus. So I don't think I'll fill the prescription. I haven't had so much as a mild cold since the beginning of the COVID epidemic, but I my symptoms are still mild compared to what they probably would be, if I were not vaccinated.

What mainly worries me is that cruise ships and airplanes are now once again becoming vectors for spreading the plague. There was a breakout on that ship, but nobody knows how widespread it was. No one is keeping track of infections, and most of the 4,000 passengers on my ship headed for the airports after debarkation, not really knowing whether they would be infecting others. Before getting on the ship, everyone was required to have a negative test in order to board, but false negatives are not uncommon, especially with the quick antigen tests. Since many came by air travel after their tests, a certain number would have been infected on the way to the cruise. While aboard the ship, many got off at ports where they would be exposed in shops and restaurants. So it seems that we are entering a new travel era in which people will simply ignore the problem as long as they can. I just hope that we don't get a really lethal mutation of the virus in the future.
 

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Yep. I'm in a similar "boat" metaphorically speaking; my workplace has become one giant super spreader event, and only the science faculty and some of the support staff seem to be taking any precautions. Even the nursing students aren't masking regularly. A student showed up for an exam today masked, and asked whether I wanted him to sit for the test, despite having had a positive Covid test this morning! I sent him home, but exposures are all over the place. Not having had the disease myself, the whole social world is starting to feel like a landmine. The more direct connection are cruises; many of the students and staff seem to think that the week before classes was a good time to book one, judging by some the emails I've received lately. Mostly, if I'm not at work, I just stay home. Don't want to be a victim or a vector if there's still anything I can do to prevent that.

Best of luck to you and your wife, Copernicus.

No conservative shitbird ever gets to get on a high horse about AIDS transmission in my hearing, ever again, unless they want an earful.
 

Copernicus

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Cruise ships right now are a very bad idea if you don't want to get Covid. The proximity and tight quarters are just perfect for spread.

I agree, but the fact is that this is true of taking any public transportation or going to any crowded venue anywhere, not just on cruise ships. You can get it in a movie theater or the supermarket. Most people no longer wear masks, which are primarily protection against spreading infection to others rather than against infection to oneself. So you might as well start crossing a lot of normal activities off your list, because the BA5 variant is wickedly contagious. A safer bet would be to get the new booster and wear masks in crowded areas. We could not get the new booster before our cruise, but we did wear masks most of the time on the ship. In my case, it just didn't help. However, my symptoms are mild, and that is probably because I've had all the boosters allowable. My wife isn't even testing positive yet.

Most people who cruise come and leave by air travel, which is even worse for proximity. If you get on a cruise ship, you may need to be both vaccinated and tested, whereas that does not apply to getting on an aircraft.
 

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I agree, but the fact is that this is true of taking any public transportation or going to any crowded venue anywhere, not just on cruise ships.
Wearing of masks is mandatory on public transport in Brisbane; However we are not permitted to enforce this, and only about 20-25% of passengers actually wear one.

As a driver, my best protection is the closure of the 'suicide seat', and the installation of a partial shield to stop passengers from coughing straight into my face.

image.jpgimage.jpg
 

Copernicus

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I agree, but the fact is that this is true of taking any public transportation or going to any crowded venue anywhere, not just on cruise ships.
Wearing of masks is mandatory on public transport in Brisbane; However we are not permitted to enforce this, and only about 20-25% of passengers actually wear one.

As a driver, my best protection is the closure of the 'suicide seat', and the installation of a partial shield to stop passengers from coughing straight into my face.

...

Exactly. You are exposed to a wide segment of the public during your work, even though wearing a mask all the time can be very uncomfortable. All of the crew on our ship were required to wear masks all the time, and we could tell it made many of them uncomfortable. In fact, my wife and I wore masks everywhere, although it didn't do me any good. But I think the crew appreciated it, since they were constantly interacting with unmasked passengers. It turns out that, since I did become infected, my mask did more to protect others from me rather than vice versa.
 

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I agree, but the fact is that this is true of taking any public transportation or going to any crowded venue anywhere, not just on cruise ships.
Wearing of masks is mandatory on public transport in Brisbane; However we are not permitted to enforce this, and only about 20-25% of passengers actually wear one.

As a driver, my best protection is the closure of the 'suicide seat', and the installation of a partial shield to stop passengers from coughing straight into my face.

View attachment 40345View attachment 40346
Man, I wish I had a shield! So many coughs and sniffles during classes, it's seriously freaking me out.
 

Copernicus

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If you are able, I would urge you to get the new booster, Poli. It is tailored to resist this very contagious strain. A lot of people from my cruise are reporting on Facebook that they also tested positive, and they were all vaxxed and tested before boarding the ship. I seem to be recovering nicely after only 3 days, and I only had the old vaccine boosters when I caught this. BA5 just isn't blocked very well by the older formulas.
 

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If you are able, I would urge you to get the new booster, Poli. It is tailored to resist this very contagious strain. A lot of people from my cruise are reporting on Facebook that they also tested positive, and they were all vaxxed and tested before boarding the ship. I seem to be recovering nicely after only 3 days, and I only had the old vaccine boosters when I caught this. BA5 just isn't blocked very well by the older formulas.
Yes, I'm hoping to get the booster soon; on a waiting list with kaiser.
 

bilby

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If you are able, I would urge you to get the new booster, Poli. It is tailored to resist this very contagious strain. A lot of people from my cruise are reporting on Facebook that they also tested positive, and they were all vaxxed and tested before boarding the ship. I seem to be recovering nicely after only 3 days, and I only had the old vaccine boosters when I caught this. BA5 just isn't blocked very well by the older formulas.
Yes, I'm hoping to get the booster soon; on a waiting list with kaiser.
Blimey, that's a long waiting list; He abdicated in 1918.
 

Jimmy Higgins

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Cruise ships right now are a very bad idea if you don't want to get Covid. The proximity and tight quarters are just perfect for spread.

I agree, but the fact is that this is true of taking any public transportation or going to any crowded venue anywhere, not just on cruise ships.
The difference being the people on the cruise ship are sharing the air for days, verses people in theaters and public transportation sharing it for minutes to hours. I try not to visit the theater too often, and for movies, go when it isn't busy. As far as I can tell, I'm still clean.
Most people who cruise come and leave by air travel, which is even worse for proximity. If you get on a cruise ship, you may need to be both vaccinated and tested, whereas that does not apply to getting on an aircraft.
The flying is the double whammy.
 

Copernicus

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The difference being the people on the cruise ship are sharing the air for days, verses people in theaters and public transportation sharing it for minutes to hours. I try not to visit the theater too often, and for movies, go when it isn't busy. As far as I can tell, I'm still clean.

It isn't really as bad as people imagine. A cruise ship is a bit like a floating city. The air in the ship is constantly being recirculated with outside air, unlike in an airplane. It is not really "shared" any more than it is in a shopping mall (probably less so), and everyone has a private cabin to spend time in. The crew is well-trained in health safety measures and decontamination of public spaces. Surfaces are constantly being cleaned. It is quite possible to avoid the worst crowded areas. You can go out on deck and even find places to eat outside, weather permitting. I consider travel to and from the cruise ship to be the riskiest aspect of the trip, since airports are now notoriously crowded and full of people not wearing masks or social distancing. More people in the US are going through airports than taking cruises, so that is likely where the next upsurge in hospitalizations will come from. Cruise passengers, at least, tend to be vaccinated and tested as a condition for embarkation.
 

bilby

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The air in the ship is constantly being recirculated with outside air, unlike in an airplane.
The air in an airplane is constantly recirculated with outside air. If it wasn't, everyone would be dead of carbon dioxide poisoning by the end of a long haul flight.

In modern passenger jets with pressurised cabins, the outside air is usually sourced from the post compression phase of the jet engines, to save the weight and cost of carrying a separate compressor.
 

Copernicus

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The air in an airplane is constantly recirculated with outside air. If it wasn't, everyone would be dead of carbon dioxide poisoning by the end of a long haul flight.

In modern passenger jets with pressurised cabins, the outside air is usually sourced from the post compression phase of the jet engines, to save the weight and cost of carrying a separate compressor.

Yep, as a former Boeing employee who worked on the language in maintenance procedures for those systems, I know about trim air compressors that can be used to recirculate as much as 50% of the cabin air in the newer models. However, that's still only 50%, and the filters are limited in their effectiveness for capturing virus particles even at peak efficiency. Without proper maintenance--a problem on many aircraft--they are much less effective. All modern airliners are built to use internally recirculated air as an aid to fuel efficiency. But you are right to point out that it isn't air recirculation per se that is the whole problem.

The real problem is space confinement, limited ventilation, and prolonged exposure added to the recirculated air issue. It isn't the same as having doors opening and closing to the outside all the time. On a ship, you are continually exposed to lots of outside air, and you know that in the corridors and walking by doors to the deck when the outside air is very cold. In an aircraft, cabin air is mixed with fresh air and recirculated. Worse yet, you are forced to sit for hours in the vicinity of people sitting and walking past your location. So you are going to have more possibility for prolonged exposure to someone who is infected. Doesn't help much when the person sitting next to you is sneezing and coughing. You are basically trapped there.
 

Copernicus

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Cruise ships right now are a very bad idea if you don't want to get Covid. The proximity and tight quarters are just perfect for spread.

History should tell us how big disease vectors cruise ships are.

That's true, but my position is that air travel is an even bigger vector. The major mistake made by governments in the initial panic over COVID was to turn cruise ships into giant petri dish prisons that inevitably had to be opened up in a local port for a super spreader event. Passengers that were completely uninfected when the outbreaks occurred were trapped and exposed to the virus under quarantine. After creating a huge population of infected passengers, they ended up flying home, thus spreading the disease through air transport. The problem could have been better managed by offloading passengers to special facilities, testing them, and quarantining the infected ones in a more isolated location on land, where they could have access to real health care when needed.

However, there are all kinds of other activities--both tourist and business--that can be just as significant in terms of spreading the disease, and those simply don't get the attention. Contact tracing is almost nonexistent. The only way to find out about what is happening is through those events that make the headlines or end up as click bait, and a giant cruise ship, although a small portion of the traveling public, is a much more coherent target than the mass of people moving through hub-and-spoke air travel systems. I believe that you could shut down the cruise industry and make scarcely a dent in the rate of COVID transmission. The CDC should have been less anxious to please the public by loosening health safety standards on airplanes, but this is an election year. That they removed all of those restrictions on cruise travel was even stupider, because cruise travel almost always involves air travel to and from ships.
 

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I want to go back to cruising, but the one two punch of air travel and the crowds on cruise ships is still more grief than I feel able to handle at this point. I don't even feel able to handle air travel alone on itself. You're packed in like animals in a pen on a plane, seated bare inches from you neighbors.
 

Copernicus

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I want to go back to cruising, but the one two punch of air travel and the crowds on cruise ships is still more grief than I feel able to handle at this point. I don't even feel able to handle air travel alone on itself. You're packed in like animals in a pen on a plane, seated bare inches from you neighbors.

We still intend to try to get past that barrier with N95 masks and trying to pick seats strategically. Since we now have some natural immunity from BA5 and hope to get the bivalent vaccine soon, we'll have extra protection. The cruise line will reimburse in full, if you test positive 10 days before the cruise or are turned away at embarkation. They also reimburse for days on a cruise where you are quarantined, if that should be necessary. Still, it is a serious risk, given the lukewarm support from the CDC for precautions now. The official line is that it should be treated like the seasonal flu, since hospitalizations are down. That attitude may change as hospitalizations ramp up substantially. They are now trending in that direction.
 

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They have cruises out of Baltimore that go to Bermuda on RCL that would avoid having to fly. It goes to the side of the island I like least, and doesn't stay long, (I like the St Georges area best) but it would be a cruise. We have also hesitantly began eating out on weekends again. I don't think the latest shot is available in our area yet, but it should be soon.
 

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Cruise ships right now are a very bad idea if you don't want to get Covid. The proximity and tight quarters are just perfect for spread.

History should tell us how big disease vectors cruise ships are.

That's true, but my position is that air travel is an even bigger vector.
But how often do we see massive disease outbreaks on planes. Sure, there was that one on Airplane! but that was food borne illness.
The major mistake made by governments in the initial panic over COVID was to turn cruise ships into giant petri dish prisons that inevitably had to be opened up in a local port for a super spreader event. Passengers that were completely uninfected when the outbreaks occurred were trapped and exposed to the virus under quarantine. After creating a huge population of infected passengers, they ended up flying home, thus spreading the disease through air transport. The problem could have been better managed by offloading passengers to special facilities, testing them, and quarantining the infected ones in a more isolated location on land, where they could have access to real health care when needed.
Except, that isn't really what happened. The disease spread into the US mainly from Europe, not cruise ships. Which is why NYC exploded with cases and 1/5 of the city had had Covid-19, before it was cool.
 

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Cruise lines have been cancelling their Bermuda stops because of all the red tape. I like Bermuda. When we were there in December on a cruise out of New York, we bought a tour around the island that was really very nice. I'm not happy with touring on RCL's megaships, however. We caught our current bout of COVID on the Quantum. I prefer to travel on smaller ships.

We'll be taking a cruise at the end of October on the Celebrity Constellation from Rome to Tampa, FL. That ship only has a possible passenger load of 2,000, but we expect it not to be too full.
 

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They have cruises out of Baltimore that go to Bermuda on RCL that would avoid having to fly. It goes to the side of the island I like least, and doesn't stay long, (I like the St Georges area best) but it would be a cruise. We have also hesitantly began eating out on weekends again. I don't think the latest shot is available in our area yet, but it should be soon.
Better hurry. Fiona (the forecasted major hurricane, not the adolescent hippopotamus at the Cincinnati zoo) looks to be bearing down on a near direct hit path towards it.
 

Copernicus

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Cruise ships right now are a very bad idea if you don't want to get Covid. The proximity and tight quarters are just perfect for spread.

History should tell us how big disease vectors cruise ships are.

That's true, but my position is that air travel is an even bigger vector.
But how often do we see massive disease outbreaks on planes. Sure, there was that one on Airplane! but that was food borne illness.

Not relevant to my point. We aren't likely to see massive outbreaks on short cruises either, because not that many people will manifest symptoms on the ship. We will see them on longer cruises in which the ship is turned away from a port or quarantined simply because that would catch the eye of the news media. You have to have a way of detecting the event before you can notice it. Everyone can get infected on a particular flight and then disperse to different locations, where they continue to transmit the disease. Unless there is some kind of contact testing going on, nobody is going to discover it.

The major mistake made by governments in the initial panic over COVID was to turn cruise ships into giant petri dish prisons that inevitably had to be opened up in a local port for a super spreader event. Passengers that were completely uninfected when the outbreaks occurred were trapped and exposed to the virus under quarantine. After creating a huge population of infected passengers, they ended up flying home, thus spreading the disease through air transport. The problem could have been better managed by offloading passengers to special facilities, testing them, and quarantining the infected ones in a more isolated location on land, where they could have access to real health care when needed.
Except, that isn't really what happened. The disease spread into the US mainly from Europe, not cruise ships. Which is why NYC exploded with cases and 1/5 of the city had had Covid-19, before it was cool.

Your point does not address anything I said. I made no claims about the origin of COVID in the US or how it entered the US. I was talking about all of the news about COVID on cruise ships that we saw early on in the pandemic. I'm not disputing any facts about what happened in NYC or the rest of the US.
 

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They have cruises out of Baltimore that go to Bermuda on RCL that would avoid having to fly. It goes to the side of the island I like least, and doesn't stay long, (I like the St Georges area best) but it would be a cruise. We have also hesitantly began eating out on weekends again. I don't think the latest shot is available in our area yet, but it should be soon.
Better hurry. Fiona (the forecasted major hurricane, not the adolescent hippopotamus at the Cincinnati zoo) looks to be bearing down on a near direct hit path towards it.
I'm thinking of next Spring, rather than this Fall; during Spring, hurricanes are not an issue
 

bilby

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Cruise ships right now are a very bad idea if you don't want to get Covid. The proximity and tight quarters are just perfect for spread.

History should tell us how big disease vectors cruise ships are.

That's true, but my position is that air travel is an even bigger vector.
But how often do we see massive disease outbreaks on planes. Sure, there was that one on Airplane! but that was food borne illness.

Not relevant to my point. We aren't likely to see massive outbreaks on short cruises either, because not that many people will manifest symptoms on the ship. We will see them on longer cruises in which the ship is turned away from a port or quarantined simply because that would catch the eye of the news media. You have to have a way of detecting the event before you can notice it. Everyone can get infected on a particular flight and then disperse to different locations, where they continue to transmit the disease. Unless there is some kind of contact testing going on, nobody is going to discover it.

The major mistake made by governments in the initial panic over COVID was to turn cruise ships into giant petri dish prisons that inevitably had to be opened up in a local port for a super spreader event. Passengers that were completely uninfected when the outbreaks occurred were trapped and exposed to the virus under quarantine. After creating a huge population of infected passengers, they ended up flying home, thus spreading the disease through air transport. The problem could have been better managed by offloading passengers to special facilities, testing them, and quarantining the infected ones in a more isolated location on land, where they could have access to real health care when needed.
Except, that isn't really what happened. The disease spread into the US mainly from Europe, not cruise ships. Which is why NYC exploded with cases and 1/5 of the city had had Covid-19, before it was cool.

Your point does not address anything I said. I made no claims about the origin of COVID in the US or how it entered the US. I was talking about all of the news about COVID on cruise ships that we saw early on in the pandemic. I'm not disputing any facts about what happened in NYC or the rest of the US.
The big outbreak in Sydney was largely due to the Ruby Princess; The failure to handle the quarantining of that ship was a major bone of contention between the Commonwealth and NSW governments, both of whom sought to pin the blame on the other, as well as on the cruise operators.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruby_Princess
 

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The big outbreak in Sydney was largely due to the Ruby Princess; The failure to handle the quarantining of that ship was a major bone of contention between the Commonwealth and NSW governments, both of whom sought to pin the blame on the other, as well as on the cruise operators.

That one was responsible for a huge outbreak, but 90% of COVID cases in Australia came from other sources. So, even without the superspreader cruise ship event, Australia was in for it anyway. The Ruby Princess outbreak could have been handled in a way that would have reduced transmission, but neither cruise ships nor governments really knew how to handle COVID outbreaks back then. Nowadays, there are better protocols in place, especially on cruise ships. Well, let me amend that. There were better protocols in place before the government decide to lift so many of the restrictions so quickly. Now we are seeing a worse problem developing, because more people tend to take shorter cruises. Therefore, a lot of people leave cruise ships with infections that are just starting to manifest symptoms, and, as I've pointed out, a large number of passengers head straight for the airports. The megaships should not be carrying full passenger loads yet, and masks should still be mandatory in public areas.
 

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Here is an update on what I've learned about what happens after you get COVID.

My wife and I are now 10 days past the time when we first manifested symptoms, and we are obviously recovering. I have almost no symptoms, and she has minor ones. However, we tested positive on a PCR test yesterday. Worse yet, we learned that we may continue to test positive (especially on sensitive PCR tests) for weeks or months afterwards, even though we will be considered recovered from COVID. That's a problem, because all the cruise lines require negative tests two days before boarding. We have scheduled (and paid for) a trip from Rome to Tampa, FL, on the Celebrity Constellation. It starts on October 21st, but we feared flying to Rome, failing the COVID test, and being denied boarding.

Here is what the CDC says: After 5 days, you can cease isolation if you don't have a fever and have only mild symptoms. After 10 days, you are no longer considered contagious and no longer have to wear a mask in public. You are officially "recovered" from COVID and can go back to work or travel. This is true even if you still have some mild symptoms. You are considered to have natural antibodies that will strongly protect against reinfection for roughly 90 days. During that period, they won't retest you for COVID, nor do they want you to get a vaccine booster. However, to officially qualify to travel, go back to work, school, etc., you need to get a certificate of recovery from a qualified health care provider. The COVID Certification plus a valid copy of a positive COVID test in the past 11-180 days will be accepted by most countries in the world, airlines, cruise companies, etc., as sufficient proof that you are COVID-free in lieu of having to get a negative COVID test. The only exception we know of is Bermuda, which still requires negative tests, regardless of past recovery.

So we are now free to board our cruise without the negative test that everyone else is required to produce. We verified this information with Celebrity Cruises. That's the one good thing for us that comes out of this illness.
 

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Looking at several social media threads in which cruises are ending, every single ship now seems to be experiencing outbreaks of COVID. The ships now tend to be filled to capacity, but almost nobody wears masks anymore. Every ship is still short-staffed, because cruise lines have not been able to hire back so many of the people they lost. Anyway, now is not the time to travel on cruises, if you have never had COVID or are unvaccinated. The CDC no longer requires vaccinations in all passengers for US destinations, but many foreign ports still do.
 

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Looking at several social media threads in which cruises are ending, every single ship now seems to be experiencing outbreaks of COVID. The ships now tend to be filled to capacity, but almost nobody wears masks anymore. Every ship is still short-staffed, because cruise lines have not been able to hire back so many of the people they lost. Anyway, now is not the time to travel on cruises, if you have never had COVID or are unvaccinated. The CDC no longer requires vaccinations in all passengers for US destinations, but many foreign ports still do.
I mean, to be fair, I'm pretty sure that Willy Wonka tried exactly as hard as he should have to keep Augustus Gloop from going down the tubes.
 

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Looking at several social media threads in which cruises are ending, every single ship now seems to be experiencing outbreaks of COVID. The ships now tend to be filled to capacity, but almost nobody wears masks anymore. Every ship is still short-staffed, because cruise lines have not been able to hire back so many of the people they lost. Anyway, now is not the time to travel on cruises, if you have never had COVID or are unvaccinated. The CDC no longer requires vaccinations in all passengers for US destinations, but many foreign ports still do.
Crowds without masks means a high chance of infection, it doesn't matter the purpose of the crowd.
 

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Looking at several social media threads in which cruises are ending, every single ship now seems to be experiencing outbreaks of COVID. The ships now tend to be filled to capacity, but almost nobody wears masks anymore. Every ship is still short-staffed, because cruise lines have not been able to hire back so many of the people they lost. Anyway, now is not the time to travel on cruises, if you have never had COVID or are unvaccinated. The CDC no longer requires vaccinations in all passengers for US destinations, but many foreign ports still do.
Crowds without masks means a high chance of infection, it doesn't matter the purpose of the crowd.

Exactly. It is just common sense, so I don't know why the CDC cannot continue to recommend wearing masks, especially on cruise ships. Instead, they seem to have retreated to a position of throwing up their hands and giving in to public pressure. Myself, I'm not recommending that everyone stop cruising. However, I would recommend against even flying in an airplane without at least being fully vaccinated and wearing a mask during the trip. I like the fact that we've managed to avoid getting even a mild cold since 2020 until our last cruise, when all of the masks came off and social distancing was completely forgotten. What were they thinking? Everyone knows that people above the age of 65 are at most serious risk for these viruses, and the average age of passengers on many ships is over 65.
 
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