The Italian Coast Guard blocked a Carnival Cruise ship from leaving Civitavecchia, a port city near Rome, after a passenger exhibited fever and respiratory symptoms typical of the 2019-nCoV coronavirus that’s killed 170 people in 15 countries.
Bloomberg News reports that he passenger, a 54-year-old woman from Macau, is being held in isolation onboard the Costa Smeralda. Early tests were negative but the ship will be held in port and its passengers not allowed to disembark for another day out of an abundance of caution.
“As soon as the suspected case emerged, medical staff on board immediately activated the necessary health procedures,” Costa Crociere, Carnival’s Italian subsidiary, said in a statement. “Our priority is to guarantee the health and safety of our guests and team.”
It sounds like both the authorities and the company are doing what should be done in this situation, the risk of coming into contact with a dangerous virus — not necessarily the coronavirus, which has never actually been reported on a cruise line — is just one of many reasons not to go on a cruise.”
Cruises are expensive. They’re cramped, with tiny rooms, and often crowded, when filled to capacity. Once you get on a cruise, you’re trapped there for days, often with short trips to tourist-infested islands the only respite.
Cruise ships are staffed by workers who have few labor protection thanks to the vagaries of international law. They’re also terrible for the environment, spewing sulfur dioxide and dumping vessel sewage wherever they go.
And they’re petri dishes for infectious diseases. The CDC has a vessel sanitation program that “requires cruise ships to log and report the number of passengers and crew who say they have symptoms of gastrointestinal illness.” Last year, there were ten outbreaks on ships that visited the U.S. in which three percent or more of the passengers and crew reported gastrointestinal symptoms to the ship’s medical staff.
But even if you’d like to go on a cruise in the future, you’ll probably want to wait until the deadly virus that’s circling the globe abates. That way, if you do get sick on the ship, it will probably just be a good old-fashioned norovirus. How fun!