By Laura Kemp • 09 April 2020 • 13:54
THE cruise ship industry has found itself between a rock and a hard place as at least 6,000 passengers are reported to remain on board sea cruises around the world, despite the growing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a ship-tracking website, CruiseMapper, at least eight cruise ships remain at sea with passengers, including a cruise with 128 positive coronavirus cases. So far, dozens of deaths have been reportedly linked to cruise ships and the virus, with both staff members and customers dying at sea.
The US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) warned that “outbreaks of Covid-19 on cruise ships pose a risk for rapid spread of disease beyond the voyage” and they recommended that any passengers disembarking from these cruises refrain from taking commercial flights. So far, the CDC has listed almost 30 cruises who have used US ports and suffered coronavirus outbreaks.
Representatives from the cruise industry have stated that the coronavirus pandemic caught them by surprise and ‘without warning,’ however, operators continued to embark on their trajectories as late as mid-March, which is after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared coronavirus to be a pandemic. Now these cruise companies are being blamed for not disclosing the sheer scale of outbreaks on ships before allowing passengers to come on board.
In February, cruises were already detecting outbreaks of the coronavirus, for example, the Diamond Princess was forced to quarantine in Japan on February 4 after an outbreak of the virus was detected, which ultimately claimed 10 lives.
Furthermore, at least six ships left the US after the CDC warned against cruise travel on March 8, all of which had coronavirus outbreaks.
Currently there are 6,322 passengers on board cruise ships, many of which are reported to be round-the-world cruises and can last months. The ships currently around the world are, Astor, Arcadia, Queen Mary 2, the Pacific Princess, Columbus, Magnifica, Costa Deliziosa and the Greg Mortimer.
The Greg Mortimer is an Australian cruise ship which has announced that approximately 60 per cent of both passengers and crew members have been infected with the coronavirus. Most people on board this cruise are Australian although there are also citizens from the UK, the US and New Zealand on board.
These vessels with coronavirus outbreaks find themselves between a rock and a hard place as many countries they are stationed near refuse to let passengers off due to their medical state and fear of propagating the virus.
Cruise ships are also a very popular holiday for the particularly vulnerable risk group such as those over the age of 65.
A CDC report stated that these cruises are “often settings for outbreaks of infectious diseases because of their closed environment, contact between travellers from many countries and crew transfers between shifts.”
This pandemic has heightened the concern for cruise ships fully disclosing the nature and severity of the coronavirus outbreak and many companies are now being sued for their responsibility in the chain of events.
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Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features.
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