A passenger from the Carnival Vista has died from COVID-19 after several cases – mostly among crew members – were reported on the cruise ship earlier this month.
The New York Times reported Monday that the 77-year-old woman, who previously tested positive, died in a Tulsa, Oklahoma hospital after being transferred there from Belize.
As we reported previously, Carnival Vista arrived in Belize during a week-long round-trip voyage from Galveston, Texas on August 11, reporting to authorities that it had 27 positive cases of COVID-19 on board. The majority of cases, 26 in total, were among crew members of the ship. It wasn’t immediately clear if the woman was the one passenger out of the 27 cases on that particular voyage, as has been widely reported. Rather, it appears she was on a previous voyage that departed Galveston on July 31.
Belize authorities reported Carnival Vista arrived (on Aug. 11) with 2,895 guests and 1,441 crew. On that voyage, nearly all crew members on the ship were vaccinated as well as over 96% of guests on board, the Belize Tourism Board reported at the time, adding that all of the cases were among vaccinated individuals.
The New York Times report said the sickened passenger was disembarked in Belize and admitted to a local hospital, where her condition worsened. She was eventually evacuated to a hospital in Tulsa where she later passed away. An update on a GoFundMe page set up for the victim said she was transferred to Tulsa on August 6, which would not put her on the voyage that arrived August 11. Therefore, it’s not clear if she was vaccinated.
“We are very sorry to hear about the death of a guest who sailed on Carnival Vista,” Carnival Cruise Line said in a statement initially reported by the Times and now obtained by gCaptain. The statement added that the guest “almost certainly” did not contract the virus while on board the Vista.
Nevertheless, the incident highlights the difficulty cruise lines face in returning to cruising. For this reason, the U.S. Centers of Disease Control’s updated guidance recommends that high-risk travelers should avoid cruise ship travel altogether, regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated.
In response to our request for comment, Carnival Cruise Line provided us with the following statement:
“Carnival has implemented a suite of protocols that are designed to flex up as needed to adapt to the changing public health situation related to COVID-19. We meet the standards for a vaccinated cruise as defined by the CDC, with at least 95 percent of our guests and all of our crew being vaccinated, and then implemented additional measures, as we are now requiring vaccinated guests to present both proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test at check-in. Those few guests who cannot be vaccinated are tested twice before boarding the ship, and again at debarkation. And all guests must wear masks in the indoor areas of the ship where people gather, such as dining rooms, theaters and casinos. Unfortunately, no venue on land or at sea is COVID-free right now, but we are committed to protecting the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit and have not hesitated to act quickly and go beyond existing public health guidelines.”
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