Valley of Decision for Jan Cruise

We cruise on the 15th and the CDC announcement has me -of course- asking questions.

The threshold for CDC investigation is 0.1% positivity on a ship, which is nothing in my opinion. I'd be more interested in understanding the ceiling! In other words, when does a ship go from yellow to red? And are we close to that on any particular ship? Unfortunately, they're not going to tell us that or share the actual number of positive cases on any given ship.

So, I guess my question is for anyone who has returned in the last week or so..... Exactly how high is the positivity on the ships? Is it affecting the onboard experience? Is everyone coming home with it?

Can someone be real with me? I DO NOT want to cancel, but I also don't want to have a terrible vacation.

26 Answers

I'd be interested in that too...I don't know who or how anyone might have that info..or if it would be believeable anyway. Exactly who onboard is going to give someone that info?? Besides, the history of the cruise lines themselves don't lend any moral certainty to their "pronouncements"..Theres all kinds of folks who are in the same boat, pardon the expression. You might scan the thread below entitled "YOU GOTTA DO WHATS BEST FOR YOU"...You won't get a specific answer, but you'll see you're in good company. Some folks refuse to cancel...some folks refused to cancel, changed their minds and then cancelled... (like me)....we cruised end of NOV on CCL...we like to think we know what we're doing, asked questions and got no answers...end result, cancelled the one for end of FEB...we're not taking the risk, or throwing more money at a cruise..add it to the growing list of cancellations, ours, or theirs....waiting for our next one mid April...will that matter?? who knows?...good luck!

Don't know if this will help, but here is the web site from the CDC concerning cruise ship color status. If you scroll up from the chart it will tell you what the threshold is for each color status. The most recent update was yesterday.

Cruise Ship Color Status | Quarantine | CDC

Just heard there is some trouble brewing with NCL. Pearl cruise which departed yesterday is headed back to Miami and the Getaway scheduled to leave tomorrow has been cancelled due to crew covid.

It is a changing world- almost daily. Too murky for us to even consider cruising just yet.. Wish you the best of luck in your pondering!

Obviously, I appreciate cruising, since 1990 having sailed just shy of 700 days total. Until the pandemic broke out I only booked cruises of three week durations or more, mostly involving remote areas of the globe. I certainly appreciate the few sites that offer a glimpse at what's actually going on pertinent to the industry.

I don't need any more cheerleader rhetoric, I am swamped with brochures offering way too much of that. I had high hopes that vaccines would eventually stabilize the crisis and allow cruising to drift back to normal.

Unfortunately, this Omicron variant is teaching us otherwise. I doubt if cruising has even begun to be impacted with the contagiousness of this one. In circles with which we are familiar, covid has exploded over the last week or so, among family and friends, almost all who have been vaccinated to the hilt and are adamant mask wearers. "Katie bar the door".

Concern now is that the next variant may be as infectious as Omicron and as lethal as Delta. In that case, cruising might not survive. Not necessarily because people will quit booking passage but investors will be frightened off.

Really good to hear from you again partner! Yeh, the idea that FIRST we had the plain ol "ordinary" pandemic...which morphed into "the pandemic of the unvaxxed" (and unmasked), and NOW IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER.....If we weren't addicted to cruising, we probably wouldn't care....I said in the beginning I wasn't getting into who's lying to whom....but I've had enough. The answer is easy...They ALL lie, and cover it up by changing their "rules and pronouncements" daily....Want to be nicer???ok...the CDC doesn't know what to tell folks to do, as if they would do it anyway...their credibility is strained beyond belief...and now we have massive lines ofincreasingly desperate people because....THEIR KIDS ARE INVOLVED!!!.....utterly and totally predictable.....The cruise lines?? They're getting more and more desperate.The kahunas up on mahogany row will be leaping out windows soon...and smiling to their customers as they go down. Everything is wonderful!

The "numbers" we get bombarded with every time the TV is turned on?? TOTALLY bogus...how many millions of positive tests go unreported???...how many people "aren't feeling well", possibly with a covid variant, and say NOTHING!!...We have entire states led by ignorant politicians pandering to what they perceive as their "base", while their states are leading the nation in infections? I could go on, but its pointless...

I used to think that the tree all these characters think we're falling out of just couldn't get any higher...I was wrong...THEY are proving just how stupid the American public can be....

Yes Yankee, I shake my head in wonder as well. We spend our winters on Florida's Atlantic Coast anymore and witness the ignorance first-hand. Football and basketball fans were getting really cocky, let the good times roll. Now they are watching third string minor league players take the place of franchise names on the rosters.

Even though our sailing days may be numbered, I still have another concern, being an Alaskan and visitation being our number two industry, these events do not bode well for us up there, particularly since the world is pretty much awash in natural gas and oil, our number one export.

A few years ago my long time sailing partner passed on. I remarried, but my new partner has never been on a ship, hardly. So I have to tread carefully getting her oriented to the water, booking her on a three weeker to begin with isn't very wise, as I'm not sure motion sickness might kick in. A one weeker in the calm Caribbean was what I had hoped for, then Covid hit.

In the past HAL, Princess and Regent were the ones we used. I planned booking her on Regent. But now, it looks like FDR might be throwing in the sponge again. Man, I'm getting pretty long in the tooth to keep waiting this out.

"The Miami Herald says 'it’s the first mass cancellation of cruises by a major global cruise line since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, when cruise lines abruptly halted and didn’t operate for over a year . . . Norwegian said certain ships only will stop sailing the remainder of January, while others will suspend trips through late April . .

"The one worry, I’ll be honest, is that a number of destinations in the Caribbean are concerned and denying entry to cruise ships,' said Brian Salerno, senior vice president of maritime policy at Cruise Lines International Association, the cruise industry’s largest trade group . . .

Despite the resurgence of the pandemic disease and the Dec. 30 CDC advisory for people to avoid cruising this winter no matter their vaccination status, other major cruise lines as of Thursday had no plans to cancel voyages."

It's interesting to see NCL cancel / postpone cruise sailings, while Carnival & Royal Caribbean are continuing to ignore the CDC's warnings while now routinely experiencing cruises with 50 to 100 diseased crew members per cruise and an increasing number of infected guests . . ."

I just returned Dec.18th off HAL Niew Amsterdam. St. Thomas was replaced for Amber Cove prior to sailing. Totally disappointing. Nothing in Amber Cove in my opinion. The ship had just less than 50% capacity which meant no lines for anything. All shows and activities went off as scheduled except one that had to be rescheduled due to electrical problems. For the most part people adhered to mask wearing and social distancing except in the BB King Club (most popular venue) and the casino. I also noticed in port many guests were not wearing masks. I wore mine at all times. I also maintained social distancing when interacting with strangers. Overall, enjoyed sailing again, however , I was never aware any passengers or crew having tested positive or anyone in quarantine.

I’m scheduled to sail January 20th on Enchantment of the Sea from Baltimore. I’ve been tracking the sailing that left DEC 31st and is due back tomorrow. From what I could see, it docked at all scheduled ports. Today I called RCCL to see if Covid cases had been reported and I was told they didn’t have any Covid information about the ship. However, the CDC website status is yellow ( as of 1/6/22 j which means .01% of passengers have tested positive. So somebody is lying. As of now, the cruise is still a go and Royal is still taking bookings. With so much over exposure during the holidays I’m a little concerned. This is a 4 girls fun trip and I was looking forward to going. My last cruise I didn’t do any extra research and didn’t hesitate about going and felt safe even with flying to Flordia. This time I’m more nervous and concerned because the virus seems to be out of control and people don’t seem to be taking it seriously. At least I don’t have to fly this time. Plan to make a decision by Jan.16th or 17th on whether to cancel or not. By then CDC may have more updates. Fingers crossed.

I sincerely appreciate everyone sharing their thought process and opinions. As luck would have it, a neighbor is on the exact ship we are scheduled to sail on in 8 days. I'm anxiously awaiting their return so I can hear real-life accounts. Their occasional photo update on social says everything is wonderful. This makes me optimistic. But time will tell.

As I read about ships all over the world, there's a common theme: staff testing positive. Why wouldn't the ships schedule testing on embarkation day for staff too?

Ouch-----I just let my wife read this. Now I never get her on a ship. Was also posted on C.C. I got if off of Cruise Law News.

January 13, 2010 Nevada #1

Posted yesterday at 02:47 PM

This is long. I debated about posting it. If you’re looking for recent information about sailing Norwegian and what it’s like to test positive on board, I’m posting this for you and hope it will help. If you’re someone who likes to troll or be snarky about people “cruising during a pandemic,” consider that this isn’t for you– or about you–and kindly scroll on. This is our family's experience.

Late October 2021: My husband and I book 3 Cabins on Norwegian Bliss for 12/26 New Year’s sailing. A Christmas gift to our family, including our adult children (young 20’s). We book through a travel agent and purchase independent CFAR travel insurance (25% penalty). We are all vaccinated and most will be eligible for boosters before sailing.

December 2021: Omicron takes over the news. We understand this trip will involve additional risks and stresses. Peace of Mind policy is not available. What will happen if one of us tests positive at the pier or onboard? Norwegian’s policy seems vague. Not many personal narratives posted. We consider triggering our CFAR insurance (which will refund all but $2500). We confer with our family. We are healthy, vaccinated, and we miss each other. We love to cruise. We will do this.

12/25/21: We individually test for Covid (home tests and at the airport) before flying. No one wants a surprise at the pier. All negative.

12/26/21: We’re tested and aboard! Let the fun begin! We discover that some (a lot) of the entertainment is canceled due to Covid. Masks are now required. No problem! We’re flexible and happy to be here!

The ship is gorgeous. Food is the best we’ve ever had on a cruise. We enjoy our two specialty dinners but are impressed with the main dining rooms and buffet as well. We take full advantage of the drink package! Never a long wait for drinks, never a need for dining reservations (which I hate to make in advance), no problem finding deck chairs. The staff is wonderful–warm, fabulous, happy to have us on board. Our cares and all the stress leading up to this trip melt away. My husband and I decide this is the best cruise we’ve ever taken. We are sold on Norwegian.

1/1/21: Last day of cruise. We learn that one of our family members (age 21) is sick. The symptoms: fever, chills, cough…not good. Medical Center is called. Someone arrives within 90 minutes to test Passenger 1 in the cabin. Both passengers are told to stay in the cabin and await PCR results. Ninety minutes later a telephone call: Passenger 1 is positive. Medical Center says they’ll be up to test Passenger 2. Passenger 2 is negative, but instructed to remain in isolation for the duration of cruise. Passengers have many questions about quarantine process but the caller is hard to understand and disconnects before they can ask. They begin to worry. These are my kids.


I go to Guest Services for more information. Specifically, I want to know where my family members will be taken when the ship docks. I speak to a Guest Services agent who is cold and dismissive. My first negative experience ever with a Norwegian employee. He says more information will be coming from the Medical Center and that there are “many” guests affected.

Another call comes from the Medical Center. The caller this time informs guests they will be taken on arrival to a “quarantine facility.” No other information. Guests begin to panic. What “facility”??

I return to Guest Services and politely request to speak with a manager. I am calm. The manager is ALSO cold and dismissive. This is my second negative experience with Guest Services and is opposite of every other experience we’ve had on board. I sense an attitude of “You got yourself into this–not our problem!” He does assure me that the cabin mates will be allowed to remain together (one is negative but is concerned about the other and they will stay together). He tells me the guests will be receiving a letter.

That evening guests receive a letter telling them they will be taken to a certain hotel upon arrival. I’m reassured as I know the hotel from having stayed there in the past. It’s a nice hotel. The letter tells them a port agent will be assisting them as they disembark and will arrange to get them to the hotel. They are given phone numbers to call if there are any problems. They’re told a company called Med Com will be contacting them daily to assess their illness and assist with medical issues. The letter says they will be responsible for paying all costs upfront and will need to submit all expenses and claims to their insurance carrier. If they don’t have insurance or insurance denies the claim, Norwegian will reimburse for the length of stay (Med Com will determine the need), reasonable transportation costs, up to $100 a day for meals, flight change fees up to $300 (if applicable).

DISEMBARKATION DAY

9:00 am: Guests have eaten room service breakfast. They get a phone call letting them know to prepare to disembark at 9:30-9:45. They will disembark after all other passengers have left the ship.

10:15: A crew member in full Hazmat gear collects guests from stateroom. Crew member does not communicate with guests but motions with hand gestures where they are to proceed.

10:15: Guests are stopped in the hall and met by a second Hazmat-attired crew member who carries an electric aerosol-spraying device. He sprays luggage with “sanitizing” (?) spray. No communication is given. This crew member follows guests down the hallway, spraying behind them as they walk. During this process, an unmasked crew member casually passes guests in the hallway.

10:20: Another group of guests arrives at the elevator, also having their path sprayed down as they walk. The spray machine is electric and guests have to keep stopping so the machine can be re-plugged in and spraying can continue.

10:25: Guests get on elevator in a group and are taken to floor 5. Sanitizing is discontinued. Crew member gestures for guests to continue on to the gangway. All Hazmat protocol is discontinued at the gangway. Guests give room number and names to crew. Guests proceed down gangway–this is the last time they see anyone from Norwegian Cruise Lines.

10:30: Porters are at the bottom of gangway, pointing in the direction to proceed. It is an alternative gangway which takes guests outside the terminal. Porters point toward a chain link gate where a port official is waiting. There are approximately 4 other groups of Covid passengers waiting and a port agent is checking passports. Port Agent points toward the gate and another agent at the gate asks people if they have a car or if they need Norwegian transport. The group with cars proceeds on their own to their vehicles. The group needing transport (approx. 40 people) walk out of the gate and are directed to stand in an area at the end of the port. Port agent announces that someone will come and direct guests onto buses. Quarantined passengers are not kept isolated from arriving/departing passengers.

10:45: There is no longer a port agent with the group. There is no one left behind the chain link gate. Guests are on their own.

11:45: Some passengers elect to depart – about 30 remain. Porters in the area are asked for help but say they have no information. Guests begin trying to call the phone numbers provided by Norwegian. One number rings through and goes to a voice mail box that is full. One number is for medical questions only. One number has a voicemail message that says they are only open Monday-Friday, 9-5. This is Sunday. Many guests are calling Norwegian Customer Service but no one is able to provide them information or help. Some guests are actively sick and there is no place to sit down, go to the bathroom, or get water. Guests begin getting angry and frantic. There are 3 large Sprinter-type vans with engines running, located directly in front of the group. A few guests approach the vans and ask if they are here to take a group to *the hotel I’m not going to name.* The vans say they are and allow the passengers to board (these vans are actually here to pick up Norwegian crew but, in the confusion, they unexpectedly end up with 30 Covid-positive passengers onboard).

12:10: Three vans proceed to hotel.

12:25: Arrival at hotel. One passenger goes in to find out about Covid-quarantine rooms. Hotel desk clerk tells her to leave the hotel immediately. The hotel says they have not received any information about Covid guests and there are no rooms available. The vans remain at the hotel while guests frantically try to get a hold of Norwegian for help. One family is very angry and refuses to get back on the bus. Hotel official comes out and tells the van driver that the police will be called if everyone doesn’t remain on the buses. Passengers are getting hungry, angry, desperate, panicked, and some are SICK. Most are frantically still trying to call Norwegian for help. Norwegian Customer Service Supervisor says they are unable to contact the person at the port responsible (person is not answering the phone). “Sorry, we’ll call you back if we get more information.”

1:20: Passengers are still on the vans. Van drivers are communicating by phone with their boss. (Whoever this van company is deserves a medal. The drivers are kind, empathetic and patient. They understand that they have now–unexpectedly– been fully exposed to Covid-19, and that their passengers literally have no destination to go to). The boss tells them to take passengers to a hotel 40-50 minutes away from where they are. This is not a Norwegian decision–it’s unclear how this hotel has been selected, but possibly they have agreed to take the passengers.

1:21: A representative from the hotel *which shall not be named* comes out and says they can organize rooms but it will take a couple of hours. During that time guests will have to remain in vans and are explicitly forbidden to use bathrooms or get food or water. Some guests are desperate for a bathroom; most guests are hungry and thirsty.

1:25: Some guests elect to exit the vans to make their own way. It’s been 3.5 hours since they left their cabins and it is clear that they have been dumped and abandoned by Norwegian. The prospect of driving 40 minutes to a hotel that has not been approved by Norwegian and may/may not welcome them does not appear good. The prospect of waiting 2 hours to enter a hotel that clearly wasn’t expecting them and has threatened to call the police on them is also not good.

My kids are within walking distance of my hotel; they head my way and I arrange their room, pick up their keys, and am able to ensure they have no contact with staff or other guests in the process.

Jan 3: No word from Norwegian or Med Com. My travel agent and agency are working all day, sending emails and making phone calls. No one can explain what has just happened. The phone numbers the guests have been given STILL don’t work. Finally at 7:00 pm, due solely to the emails our agency has sent, a Norwegian employee calls. He apologizes profusely, assures that all hotel/food/transport expenses for both cabin mates will be covered, and lets the Covid positive guest know that Med Com will be contacting her.

Jan 6: No further contact from Norwegian or Med Com has happened. It’s clear Med Com will not be following up. Covid-positive guest is feeling well and has continued to observe CDC protocols.

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