COVID-19 and cruises: a match made in hell

With cruise ships a much-talked-about vector of SARS-CoV-2, the industry is currently dead in the water. So what measures can be taken to ensure the future safety of crew, passengers and the public?

Need to know:

  • Prior to COVID-19, the cruise industry was experiencing remarkable growth. An estimated 30 million people globally took a cruise in 2019.
  • Passengers on longer cruises to Northern Europe, Alaska, the Galapagos, Iceland, the Polar Regions, transatlantic and world cruises are typically aged over 60.
  • Cruise ships are an unusual environment with considerable potential for transmission of infectious diseases.
  • Prior to COVID-19, respiratory and gastrointestinal infections and vaccine-preventable diseases were the most frequently reported outbreaks on cruise ships.

There has been widespread media coverage and public health concern about the high incidence of COVID-19 cases on cruise ships and the role of cruise ships in transmission of the disease.

The best-known examples have been the Diamond Princess and the now notorious Ruby Princess.