Is It Safe To Cruise Prior to Vaccination?

Old Sep 25th, 2020, 12:51 PM
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Is It Safe To Cruise Prior to Vaccination?

I'm thinking of taking a cruise this Winter (in North America) but not having pre-existing conditions or being older (I'm 51) I'm probably not going to be able to get vaccinated until next Spring (along with probably a lot of other people.) I see some cruise lines are starting back up in November. I read this excellent article by Claudia Ceci just published on Cruise Critic titled 'What's it like sailing on a Big Ship in the COVID Era' (was not a North American Cruise of course). It detailed some of the great lengths the ships are going to to make them safe. That's great!

The thing I'm concerned about is that as we've learned more about the virus, we now know it spreads through the air, not just surfaces. So you really want to avoid confined spaces with large groups of people for long periods. So while the safety precautions the ships are taking definitely help reduce the risk, can't I still contract the virus from some asymptomatic purpose while breathing the same air as them in various parts of the ship, especially while eating with a mask off?

Claudia's article keeps referencing a "guarantee" as in "safety guarantee" is this just being used figuratively or do I actually get all my money back if I catch the virus. For example the article states "With the restart of the cruises, you expect the first to book are the repeaters, yet this is not the case: on board there are many guests who are new to cruise. They chose it for the safety guarantee it offers and once on board they are discovering its infinite possibilities."

Is this a money back safety guarantee?

I understand that nothing in life is without risk, but I'm undecided as to whether to cruise this Winter before a vaccine? Seems like maybe some more time and many more ships sailing will eventually answer the question as to whether an outbreak can be prevented. But given the horror stories of passengers stranded of the coast when the virus broke out, wouldn't another virus breakout on a cruise ship prior to the world being vaccinated (could take another year?) be extremely catastrophic to the industry? I suppose all of us cruising before the vaccine are basically voluntary guinea pigs?

What do people think?
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Old Sep 25th, 2020, 02:35 PM
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If you are hanging out at CruiseCritic you should already know that there is no guarantee at this point that cruises will resume this winter. I have no idea what the article means by a "guarantee", but when and if you sign up for a US cruise, obviously you will need to read the fine print for that specific cruise.
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Old Sep 25th, 2020, 03:25 PM
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Hell no. Have you ever cruised in cold and flu season? Respiratory illnesses spread like wildfire on cruise ships. Only this one can kill or disable, or turn your ship into a prison.
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Old Sep 25th, 2020, 03:35 PM
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The "turn your ship into a prison" I think it was scares a lot of people the most (other than those in the highest risk categories, which dying is probably their first concern.)

Someone just told me that since the article was probably written buy a European as the article discusses a cruise in Italy, supposedly, in Europe the word "guarantee" can be construed differently than it is in the USA. I think the best way to describe is a USA writer might use the word "policy" instead of guarantee. Not sure if this is really the case but seams plausible. The only other explanation is that the word was purposely used to make potential cruisers feel more safe. We have "guaranteed" safety procedures. If the virus is really spread most easily through the air, then all the gloves and surface cleaning in the world isn't going to make a ship safe thinking about this more. You could also easily design an extendible luggage handle pole to be a deadly weapon and easily get through security at an airport.

Much in society is designed to give you a "feeling" of safety. Limiting 4 people to an elevator doesn't do you much good if 1 of the 4 has the virus and passes it to just one of the other 3. Nothing is without risk. I'm going to remain in a wait and see mode and let someone else be a voluntary guinea pig. I would guess the accountants and risk experts have determined that there will be enough "early adopters" to help the cruise lines stop or slow their losses to the point it's worth the risk of another outbreak (aka Prison Ship) in the news. The Pac-12 Football league just announced they reversed their decision on canceling the season due to more availability of rapid testing. Maybe this will translate to other industries like the cruise industry but I don't know how feasible it would be to test every single passenger every time they board the ship at all ports? Guess they could test on the day or day prior to starting the cruise and hope no one gets anything at any of the ports of call early enough in the cruise to become contagious to the other passengers prior to having symptoms?

Guess it will boil down (prior to vaccination) to every individual's risk tolerance. It's just without a lot of prior history data with safety measures in place, very hard to estimate the real risk.

Last edited by captainjak; Sep 25th, 2020 at 03:38 PM.
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Old Sep 25th, 2020, 11:38 PM
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My understanding is that you won't be allowed to wander freely at ports of call, but need to stay inside a bubble with an official tour group, which means sights you may have wanted to see or things you might have wanted to do would be limited.
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Old Sep 26th, 2020, 05:40 AM
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NO Way!!! As you stated, air particles are the issue and you will be in a closed setting with others. It just takes one of them to have the virus and not no it and BAM!
Ships can clean everything and it's still in the air. Norovirus has hit many ships even though they clean all the time. You are in an enclosed environment with any viruses, and germs that exist there.
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Old Sep 26th, 2020, 07:33 AM
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Don't let "I was dying to take a cruise" appear on your tombstone.
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Old Sep 26th, 2020, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by mlgb View Post
My understanding is that you won't be allowed to wander freely at ports of call, but need to stay inside a bubble with an official tour group, which means sights you may have wanted to see or things you might have wanted to do would be limited.
That's interesting. Seems like it would reduce the risk as long as the tour group wasn't going in any enclosed spaces with people outside the cruise and everyone wore masks. Does that mean you are limited to only paid tours booked through the cruise line or are the offering free tours to replace the option to do your own thing for free or booking directly with a 3rd party tour operation at a lower price?
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Old Sep 26th, 2020, 09:59 AM
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Again, it is too soon to say how this will be organized in the US. The MSC cruises in Europe appear to be requiring you to sign up for their excursions, some free and some paid. One family which wandered off was denied re-boarding.

Given the number of Americans who refuse to wear masks on land, it will be interesting to see how successful cruise lines are at enforcing masks on board.
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Old Sep 26th, 2020, 10:26 AM
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Very interesting about that family being denied re-boarding. Seems you have to go to that length to minimize the risk because a cruise ship outbreak in the news will be devastating not to just that cruise line but to the industry as a whole.

You are correct that only 60% at best of Americans are wearing masks. Some of the more conservative states it's below 50%. Frankly as a US Citizen I find that embarrassing. It demonstrates a lack of respect for the well being of your fellow citizens. It's not like being asked to wear a mask is like asking you to walk around with your eyes closed and hop around on one leg. A very very small inconvenience to "play it safe." If you won't wear a mask for reasons of demonstrating your "freedom of choice" or opinion about the severity of the virus, then you might as well start demonstrating your freedom of choice by driving down the should of the freeway at 100 MPH to get around rush hour traffic.

Florida just removed restrictions on restaurants and bars allowing 100% capacity even in bars. That will be an interesting experiment to watch how it goes the next few months, especially through the Thanksgiving/Christmas season. If they don't have a huge surge and don't have to reimpose restrictions, that's a positive sign that some industries like the cruise ships might be able to find a balance and slow their losses without having a PR catastrophe of another "Prison Ship" story in the news. It's almost as if though CEOs and Politicians (mainly conservative states) think that the seriousness and contagiousness of the virus must be declining over time, or, more plausibly, their economic and/or political pain is increasing over time causing them to be willing to take more risk. What many don't understand is how interrelated the two are. If you open up bars or cruise ships prior to people being vaccinated and it is a dismal failure because it caused large outbreaks, then you basically just shot yourself in the foot and have to take two steps back. The problem is the CEO's and Politicians (and School Superintendents, etc) don't have any historical data to base their judgments on, so this is all basically a semi-educated guess at best and states like Florida and large ships cruising are essentially big laboratory experiments.

I'd still consider cruising prior to a vaccine though if after a few months of cruises sailing, there weren't any problems. But after further consideration I've decided I'm not willing to be a voluntary guinea pig before that happens.
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Old Sep 26th, 2020, 10:46 AM
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There is data from the 1918 epidemic demonstrating that shutting down has a better long term outcome. There is data from countries that have shut down in this epidemic that doing so produces a better short term outcome, at least.

I am glad that my Democratic governor (in NC) has been holding firm against the Republicans, although he may relax the current restrictions when they expire on Oct 2nd. At least our "percent positive" is now hovering around 5%.

I cannot properly express my opinion of those who refuse to wear masks and limit the size of gatherings without resorting to unparliamentary language.

A more important question is whether you are prepared to be a guinea pig for a vaccine.
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Old Sep 26th, 2020, 11:01 AM
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Like computer technology, medical technology has advanced exponentially month by month. My Mother worked in the HIV vaccine unit at the University of Washington. She said it was always a challenge with a lot of trial participants to explain to them they have no risk whatsoever of contracting HIV buy being in an HIV vaccine trial. I know getting the virus isn't the only possible risk. It's just common sense that you can't expect your average person to understand how a vaccine works like the scientists do. Combine that with social media making it easier to spread theories (like vaccines causing autism) based on no peer-reviewed scientific evidence, you end up with misinformation being spread resulting in a large group of skeptical/fearful people. General human psychology that in many cases we fear what we don't understand.

The way I look at it is if the people with the most knowledge of how the particular vaccine is made, hot it works, and have access to the data from the trials are willing to give it to themselves and their children, then that says a lot. Someone's opinion about it that lacks the education, training, experience and anywhere near the test data the scientists have is basically worthless to me. Unfortunately, not everyone shares that same opinion for whatever reason.
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Old Sep 26th, 2020, 12:54 PM
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I'm more interested in whether they give the vaccine to their grandparents. More specifically, to their immuno-compromised grandparents. I need more information than is currently available on the composition of the volunteer pools. Also, some of these vaccines are using entirely new approaches. I don't think a few months with a few thousand participants is enough, but I will be having long discussions with my doctors.
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Old Sep 27th, 2020, 04:49 AM
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Originally Posted by thursdaysd View Post
I cannot properly express my opinion of those who refuse to wear masks and limit the size of gatherings without resorting to unparliamentary language.
.
I LOVE the way you expressed this and I totally agree.
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Old Sep 27th, 2020, 11:44 AM
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I would not go near a cruise ship nor near anyone who has cruised until there is a vaccination for COVID. I probably will not ever go on a cruise even when vaccinated.
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Old Sep 27th, 2020, 02:35 PM
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No way for us.
We have a cruise scheduled 9/2021 out of Southhampton but we will have to see how things are then
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Old Oct 6th, 2020, 10:04 AM
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It blows my mind that anyone would even consider going on a cruise before this covid situation is under control. If you think there will be a vaccination in the spring then why not wait a bit longer? I don't know when the vaccination will come, but I wouldn't even consider a cruise or a long flight until the vaccination is proven effective and the numbers start dropping drastically.

I'm speaking with concern and not as a critic. To the OP or anyone else considering a cruise, your life has value so please do not risk your life needlessly. This will be over someday, and until then let's find other ways of spending our free time.
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Old Oct 6th, 2020, 11:51 AM
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I would worry about people letting ships into port now. Key West doesn't want them now that they see the difference in the water. It is clear once more. If there is a covid case you might not get into any port. That would worry me.
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Old Oct 6th, 2020, 01:36 PM
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There privately owned boats still stuck in ports around the world. I would not get on any ship.
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Old Oct 16th, 2020, 02:10 PM
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No way. The dates for sailings keep being pushed back by major cruiselines. Wait until 2022. There'll be plenty of sites to take your money. Sad to have cancelled our cruise last month though, but the port restrictions in Europe are changing every month. Do you want to circle around for weeks on a ship out of port? US tours cannot guarantee any more safety. Dont be foolish.
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