Health & Science

Carnival Confirms ‘Small Number’ Of COVID-19 Cases On Cruise Ship, Implements New Mask Policy

In a statement, the company wrote that it was implementing a fleetwide mask policy and that it was not canceling the trip.

A Carnival Cruise ship docked at the Port of Tampa Thursday, March 26, 2020, in Tampa, Fla.

Carnival Cruise Line on Wednesday confirmed it’s managing a “small number” of positive cases aboard a Carnival Vista cruise ship that departed from Galveston.

The cruise line returned to operation in July, requiring passengers provide proof of vaccination as part of its safety protocol. But the company is nonetheless now dealing with an unidentified number of cases, testing close contacts and isolating those who are sick.

In a statement, the company wrote that it was not canceling the trip, but that it would implement its fleetwide mask policy a few days early. The policy was set to go into effect Saturday.

“The decision to implement the mask policy was made in an abundance of caution, given our focus on the health and safety of our guests and crew,” the company said. “The voyage will continue as planned and we are dedicated to continuing to provide our guests with a fun and safe vacation.”

The cruise line would not confirm how many passengers tested positive, nor whether they were confirmed vaccinated per its guidelines.

Carnival made the announcement the same day Texas filed its intervention in a Florida case challenging federal COVID-19 cruise restrictions, arguing that the rules cost the state millions in sales tax revenue.

Because the state doesn’t have an income tax, Texas says the loss of sales tax revenue greatly impacts its economy.

More than 1 million cruise passengers depart from the Port of Galveston every year. The state says the effective cruise industry shutdown led to $1.2 billion in spending losses, and the loss of 23,000 jobs.

The lawsuit also says the grounding of cruise ships hurts the state’s oil and gas industry.

The CDC issued its no sail order last year at the beginning of the pandemic. Later, it updated that guidance with a “conditional sailing order,” setting strict mandates on when and how ships can travel from the port.

In August, on the same day Carnival announced its vaccine mandate, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a bill banning some businesses in Texas from requiring proof of vaccination from customers — saying Texas was “open 100%.”

Carnival says it’s exempt from Abbott’s decree, because it’s following CDC guidelines under the sailing order.

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Paul DeBenedetto

Senior Producer

Paul DeBenedetto is Houston Public Media's senior web producer, writing and editing stories for HoustonPublicMedia.org. Before joining the station, Paul worked as a web producer for the Houston Chronicle, and his work has appeared online and in print for the Chronicle, the New York Times, DNAinfo New York, and other...

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