How safe are cruise lines from Florida as their numbers grow?

A cruise ship carrying at least 800 passengers infected with COVID-19 arrived in Sydney, Australia from New Zealand, multiple sources reported.

The Majestic Princess of Princess Cruises, part of Carnival Corporation, carried more than 3,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Marguerite Fitzgerald, president of cruise line Carnival Australia, told the BBC that all cases were either asymptomatic or mild.

“Reflecting the increase in community transmissions, we have also seen more guests testing positive for COVID-19 on the Majestic Princess’ current voyage. This is the result of mass testing of our 3,300 guests,” Fitzgerald said.

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The Majestic Princess:Princess cruise ship with at least 800 positive COVID-19 cases docks in Australia

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Is Florida experiencing another COVID surge?

Not yet, no. Cases appear to be on the rise as we head into cold and flu season with the highest weekly addition last week since the last week of September when new omicron variants hit. But this is still a much slower rise than previous variant-fueled surges.

Many new omicron variants have emerged, such as BQ.1, BF.7, and BN.1, and they currently make up most of the COVID infections in the southeastern United States, but they are not as prevalent than what we saw over the summer with BA.4 and BA.5. The variant of omicron called “nightmare”XBB, remains rare in Florida.

That doesn’t mean you can’t catch it, though.

What are the COVID testing requirements for Florida cruises?

Most major cruise lines have dropped their requirements for vaccinated guests or are in the process of doing so.

Royal Caribbean International no longer requires pre-cruise testing on most sailings, according to its website.

Guests 12 and older who are not fully immunized on cruises originating in the United States and the Caribbean with stops in Colombia, Haiti or Honduras must take a test within three days of their cruise. All passengers aged 2 and over sailing from Australia must also pass a test before boarding, as do those aged 5 and over on transatlantic cruises. The day you set sail is not counted as one of the days.

Since Monday, November 14, Disney cruise line will no longer require testing regardless of vaccination status for crossings from the United States, according to its website. They still strongly recommend getting vaccinated.

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Major lines including Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Norwegian cruise linePrincess Cruises and Virgin Voyages too removed all remaining testing and vaccination requirements for many trips in recent weeks.

“However, regardless of vaccination status, we encourage all guests 5 and older to get tested three days before their cruise,” Carnival spokesman Matt Lupoli told USA TODAY in a statement sent. by email.

There are no testing requirements for enter mexico the United States

With relaxed COVID guidelines, is it safe to take a cruise?

It depends on you, your comfort level and your own medical situation.

Traveling on a cruise will expose you to other people in an enclosed space for long periods of time, which is not good for respiratory viruses that spread easily. Fortunately, the immunity from being fully vaccinated seems to have helped stop the spread.

If you have a weakened immune system, or are at increased risk of serious illness, or are traveling with someone with these risk factors, you should first discuss this with your health care provider.

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Do not travel or board a cruise ship if you have tested positive for COVID-19 less than 10 days ago. Follow the CDC recommendations for isolation. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID in the last 10 days, get yourself tested at least 5 full days after the last exposure and wear a high quality mask around other people.

What can I do to avoid COVID on a cruise?

First and foremost, get up to date on your vaccinations and boosters, including latest bivalent booster which attacks the variants as well as the original strain of coronavirus.

Consider wearing an N95 or other high quality mask in crowded environments, especially indoors. Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, recommends travelers wear the highest quality mask they can get and can. tolerate. “If you can’t tolerate it, you’re going to take it down,” she said.

Spend as much time as possible outdoors and away from crowds.

Bring rapid tests with you in case you (or someone around you) start showing symptoms.

“I feel like for someone who is immunocompromised or has other serious comorbidities that aren’t well controlled, I think it’s incumbent on them to do whatever they can within reason. to protect themselves, while enjoying all the pleasures of travel,” says El-Sadr.

You might want to consider getting travel insurance which covers health care and emergency evacuation, especially if you are traveling to remote areas.

Contributors: Nathan Diller, USA TODAY; Chris Persaud, Palm Beach Post

CA Bridges is a digital producer for the USA TODAY Network, working with multiple newsrooms across Florida. Local journalists work hard to keep you informed about the topics that matter to you, and you can support them by subscribing to your local news agency. Read more of Chris’ articles here and follow him on Twitter at @cabridges

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