The latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows two Disney Wonder sailings were affected by Coronavirus. The CDC report lists all cruise ships that had voyages with US ports, which are under US CDC jurisdiction where the CDC was notified about travelers who had symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days after disembarking the ships.
The two Disney Cruise Line sailings reported were both New Orleans departures in late-February and the other early-March aboard the Disney Wonder.
The Friday March 6, 2020, 14-Night Westbound Panama Canal Cruise from New Orleans to San Diego is the other sailing which is listed in the CDC’s Cruise ships affected by COVID-19 report. The Westbound Panama Canal Cruise is highlighted as a sailing where the CDC was notified about ‘COVID-19-positive travelers who had symptoms while onboard these ships.‘ On March 27th, Disney Cruise Line’s president, Jeff Vahle, sent a health advisory email to all Westbound Panama Canal passengers regarding COVID-19.
The February 27, 2020, 4-Night Western Caribbean Cruise from New Orleans is highlighted as a sailing where the CDC was notified about ‘COVID-19-positive travelers who had symptoms while onboard these ships.‘ This is in reference, I believe, to the report from Louisiana of a passenger who returned home and later tested positive. Unlike the Westbound Panama Canal Cruise, the February 4-night is listed as having passengers ‘who had symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days after disembarking.‘ The CDC states ‘since these travelers’ symptoms began after the voyage, the traveler might have contracted COVID-19 during the voyage; however, other sources of transmission after the voyage cannot be ruled out.‘
As of April 4, 2020, the CDC updated its recommendations to help US cruise ship travelers get home as quickly and safely as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- CDC is working with partners as part of the Unified Command, including Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, port authorities, local and state health departments, and Department of State, to respond to COVID-19 aboard cruise ships.
- CDC recommends that cruise ship travelers with no symptoms or mild symptoms disembark as quickly and safely as possible at US ports of entry:
- Cruise line companies must get travelers directly to their homes via chartered or private transportation.
- Commercial flights and public transportation may not be used.
- Since February 2020, travelers on dozens of cruise ships have been affected by COVID-19 outbreaks. Cruise ships are often settings for outbreaks of infectious diseases because of the semi-enclosed environment and contact between travelers from many countries.
- Outbreaks of COVID-19 on cruise ships pose a risk for rapid spread of disease beyond the voyage. Aggressive efforts are required to contain spread.
- CDC realizes that it might be confusing for travelers when recommendations change during the COVID-19 pandemic response. The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States and globally is constantly changing. We will continue to evaluate and update our recommendations for returning cruise ship travelers as the situation evolves.
There will be many that want to play the blame game, and that is fine. I would just like to submit the following. Even on a ship that has a verified track record of being clean as reported by the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program, there is always a variable that cannot be controlled, the guests. A passenger could easily be asymptomatic, feel perfect, pass the screening at the terminal without even knowing. Why do you think even in better times, hand hygiene was stressed so much? What I do know is the Disney Wonder has back to back perfect inspection scores with a 97% average over the 40 inspections posted on the CDC’s website, which date back to September 1999.
CORRECTION: Descriptions from the CDC for each sailings were switched.