A cruise should be one of the most relaxing ways that you and your family can vacation. Every cruise line bills their cruise experience as a refreshing one – with exciting excursions, onboard entertainment, and an endless supply of tropical beverages.
According to the Cruise Line International Association, more than 32 million passengers are expected to board in 2020. While millions have booked their deposits and counted down the days on their calendars, cruises in 2020 aren’t as fun as they might seem.
The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a rapidly evolving virus causing respiratory disease and, in extreme cases, death. While the first case appeared in Wuhan City, China, the virus is spreading across the world, with cases popping up even in the United States. On January 31, the Health and Human Services Department declared the virus a public health emergency.
The CDC has confirmed that the virus appears to be spread person-to-person. That means that any location where people from across the world cross paths, such as airports or cruise ships, is going to be extremely dangerous for the general public.
Unfortunately for cruise-goers, the highly contagious virus has already affected numerous cruise lines. With people from all over the globe gathered in one enclosure, touching every guardrail, coughing in closed rooms, and shaking hands with every stranger – it’s no wonder cruise ships are a hotbed for spreading disease.
Affected Cruise Ships
On February 14, Carnival Corporation, one of the most massive cruise lines in the world, docked its Westerdam ship in Cambodia to the relief of many. The cruise ship had been denied entry to multiple ports after concerns of the virus spreading. They finally were allowed port in Cambodia, and the cruise-goers seemed to feel as if all was in the clear.
However, just two days later, an American passenger tested positive for the coronavirus. Who knows how many others came into contact with the American while on the ship? And now, all of those passengers are dispersed across Asia, heading to various airports in an attempt to get home.
Carnival is in even hotter water for another ship currently affected by the coronavirus. The Princess Diamond, a luxury cruise ship parked outside Yokohama, Japan, has been quarantined for two weeks. Thousands of people, both sick and not sick, have been stuck in their rooms, receiving meals by mask-wearing cruise employees. There are more than 540 confirmed cases aboard the ship, and quarantining the infected with all of the other passengers leaves room for hundreds of more passengers to be potentially infected.
One lawyer, an expert in global health law, has suggested that the quarantine has turned the ship into a “boiling pot of transmission.” Many other health experts question the measures that Carnival is currently taking.
The fear of spreading the coronavirus has led to many situations like these popping up over the last few months. In Italy, 6,000 passengers are currently being quarantined on their cruise ship even after preliminary tests show that there is no confirmation of the virus. One couple in question had recently been in Hong Kong, and the cruise line worried that allowing anyone off the ship could further spread infection.
What Should You Do?
Before you ever board a cruise ship, it’s important to call your healthcare insurance and see what kind of coverage you have for offshore medical occurrences. If you’re not covered, it might be a good idea to purchase travel insurance in the unfortunate case of needing medical assistance in a foreign country.
It’s also good to take a look at the medical accommodations provided by the cruise line. All cruise ships are required to have at least one medical professional on board. American-docking cruises have even stricter guidelines, demanding that the ship also provide an examination room, an intensive care room, and lab processing equipment.
It’s important to note that while the ships are required to have a doctor on board, they won’t usually have a specialist, nor will they likely have someone prepared to deal with something as medically intense as the coronavirus.
Another essential step to take pre-boarding is to look up the cruise ship with the VSP. The VSP, or the Vessel Sanitation Program, is run by the CDC and inspects ships for infection outbreaks. They then rank the ships from 1-100 for sanitation safety. Anything under a score of 85 is not recommended. The VSP also requires that ships report any outbreaks 24 hours before docking in an American port.
Once on the ship, it’s important that you do everything you can to keep yourself from getting sick. Because of the number of people that touch everything inside the ship, it’s crucial that you wash your hands frequently. If you notice someone who appears to be ill, alert a staff member immediately and go back to your room until the possibly infected area has been properly sanitized.
Were You Hurt or Did You Become Ill on a Cruise?
Cruise lines have a legal and moral imperative to ensure that they are keeping their passengers safe from contracting illnesses while onboard. Especially in light of the coronavirus, cruise ships should be taking all precautionary measures possible.
The big cruise lines make billions of dollars a year, and the least they can do is ensure the safety of their passengers.
If you or someone you love has become ill on a cruise ship due to the negligence of a cruise line, call us today at (786) 375-0344, and we can help you recover your losses. You could be entitled to damages to cover medical bills, loss of wages, emotional distress, and more.
At Louis A. Vucci P.A., we have been helping individuals go up against big corporations since 1997. We know that legal costs can seem daunting, which is why we represent clients on a contingency-fee-basis. That means that we won’t charge you a dime until we get you a full and fair settlement.
Call us now at (786) 375-0344 to schedule your free initial evaluation.