By Olivia Gray ’22
This past year and a half, the novel Coronavirus has affected the way many Americans travel and spend their time off. As cases start to fall and vaccination rates start to rise, planes are no longer stranded in vacant airports, resorts are starting to welcome guests, and tourist guided cities are finally busy with visitors. However, there is one aspect of travel that is still at halt…the $55 billion dollar cruise industry around the world has yet to leave its docks.
As cruise fans start to feel the urge to start sailing around the world again, the uncertainty of how and when these mega boats will open safely is a reality they all must face.
Cruise ships have been notorious for being epicenters for spreading various illnesses in the past.
“There were 14 gastrointestinal outbreaks on cruise ships in 2010 and 2011, 16 in 2012 and 9 in 2013,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Just after ringing in 2014, nearly a fifth of 3,000 passengers aboard Royal Caribbean International cruise Explorer of the Seas were infected with a gastrointestinal illness.
Microbiologist John R. Palisano thinks that “It makes the news during these cruises because there are a great number of people who are in confined space and very susceptible to infection because it is so easily spreadable.”
As the virus began to unfold around December, cruises continued to sail around the world despite the fact that there was a pandemic making its way from China Doctors knew well that if the virus were to make it aboard, there would be a serious outbreak.
Sure, enough the Diamond Princess cruise ship faced a major outbreak on board causing 700 people to become infected and 14 people to tragically die.
The ship quarantined in Yokohama for over a month, causing all its travelers to stay contained in their tiny cabin.
The events that occurred over the first few months on cruise ships have brought up serious questions in terms of how the cruise industry will lift their anchors and begin sailing again.
Cruise Lines are hopeful that the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine will allow travelers to travel with some sort of “vaccine passport,” and that the idea of a virus outbreak is next to impossible.
Many companies have scheduled voyages starting in late July, but those dates are all going to be determined by the amount of willing passengers and safely measures the industry is willing to risk.