Carnival on Monday laid out a plan to get its boats back out to sea packed to the gills with Americans who apparently have learned nothing from the last three months’ events. The CDC has recommended that nobody go on a cruise right now, for obvious coronavirus-related reasons, and that recommendation was extended for 100 days, and is set to expire in late July. The following week, August 1, Carnival is planning to restart its cruise operations out of three ports; Galveston, Port Canaveral, and Miami, Travel + Leisure reports.
Those three ports were chosen strategically because they can be reached by road trip for many of Carnival’s customers, rather than domestic flight. The reason behind this is that anyone returning to U.S. soil from a cruise ship is now required to quarantine for 14 days before they will be allowed to fly. Galveston will see the departure of the Carnival Freedom, Dream, and Vista. Cruises leaving from Florida will include the Horizon, Magic, Sensation, Breeze, and Elation. That’s eight massive ships filled with Texans and Floridians bound for various Caribbean islands.
Don’t forget that Carnival’s Princess line of cruises was operating the Diamond Princess that back in February had the largest single outbreak of coronavirus cases outside of mainland China. Over 700 people onboard were infected, and fourteen died during the ship’s one-month quarantine. Of the 712 positive cases on board, 331 of them were noted as asymptomatic, carrying the virus but otherwise showing no signs of illness. Similarly, the Coral Princess had an outbreak with dozens infected and three dead.
Those asymptomatic cases are bound to be the problem when cruise ships do kick back off again in August. Currently the United States is experiencing almost 30,000 new positive tests daily, but spread is continuing largely unchecked as many people continue to live a “normal” life not knowing if they’re carrying the virus or not.
Carnival has not indicated any ability to test people boarding their cruise ships for covid-19. To be fair, it has not yet indicated any health monitoring changes from its normal policy. Presumably the company will be implementing some kind of screening questionnaire, but if you’re asymptomatic, how can that catch anything? Some cruise lines have indicated that they may require guests over 70 years of age get a sign-off from their doctor before allowing them onboard.
If the vacation you had planned was pretty much guaranteed to kill a small handful of people who go on that trip, would you still go? In an effort to push the potential for death to the back of your mind, Carnival is offering fares as low as $28 per night, according to a report from Bloomberg. Would you risk your own and your family’s safety for a bargain?
A Carnival representative who spoke to Travel + Leisure on Monday had this to say in defense of the choice to re-open.
“This reflects a measured, thoughtful, and realistic approach, including a phase-in of operations and a limited number of homeports conveniently located for many of our guests. We will continue to assess the operating environment and keep our guests and travel agents informed of our plans.”
As of this writing, more than 3.5 million people worldwide have contracted the coronavirus, and more than a quarter of a million of them are now dead as a result. Wouldn’t want to inconvenience your vacation plans, though.