BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Since December, the CDC has warned travelers to avoid cruises regardless of their vaccination status.
According to the CDC, since the surge of the omicron variant there has been an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases among cruise passengers and crews, and it’s even impacting Bakersfield residents who are wanting to get back on the water.
In addition to requiring masks, social distancing, and pre-embarkment testing so far cruise lines like Norwegian, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, celebrity cruises and Disney cruise lines are requiring all crew and guests who are eligible to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
However, even with strong mitigation efforts to keep COVID-19 off-board one Bakersfield resident is warning travelers to take a break cruising the seas after, she says, her family fell ill during their latest vacation on a Norwegian cruise.
“We were super excited this was our twelfth cruise with Norwegian. We were really excited to vacation again after a long period of not vacationing.”
It all started as an annual family vacation for Heather Silvis and her family.
On December 22, they embarked on the Norwegian Escape, an 11 day cruise, stopping at eight ports along the way.
“Some of the ports were really mask heavy, some required masks just being outside.”
Until it took a turn for the worst, after her son tested positive for COVID-19 while onboard. Heather said she begged the crew to also test her family after they refused.
“The Norwegian escape I believe wholeheartedly weren’t testing people that they knew were exposed that they knew were symptomatic because if their numbers got over 1%, they had to let the CDC know.”
President of Uniglobe Global Empire Travel, Ray Watson said safety measures on cruises were effective until COVID-19 cases surged worldwide: “Whether we are going to school or a restaurant or a cruise, things are changing dramatically so this new variant has caused a whole lot of disruption.”
According to Norwegian’s COVID-19 policies, if you have symptoms while onboard, guests should contact the medical center for further instruction. If a positive test is identified, contact tracing and treatment will begin immediately, but Silvis said that didn’t happen.
“First off there was no contact tracing, they didn’t even contact the other people in my family who were in different cabins let alone the other people we had been on excursions with, hanging out with.”
Silvis explains that by the time the cruise disembarked, they were all sick and the cruise line transported all sick passengers to a hotel for quarantine.
“The hotel manager said, ‘Hey your name should be on this list, you’re going to have to pay between 3-5 thousand dollars to stay in the hotel there won’t be any food provided for you, but you will have to stay in this hotel for 10-15 days.’”
Unfortunately, Silvis said she couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket, and when the hotel manager said they weren’t required to stay, they flew home - back to Bakersfield.
“I’m not mad we got COVID, we knew the risks of traveling, we knew the risks of being on a boat with a lot of people.”
We reached out to Norwegian, but they declined to comment on the situation.
Looking at the CDC’s cruise ship color status, it shows how the CDC is conducting investigations based on the number of COVD-19 cases on board any cruise ship sailing waters.
For example, if it’s orange, COVID-19 cases were reported in less than ten percent of passengers - and no CRE cases were reported in the last seven days. Take a look at their map for further information.