Should fully vaccinated cruise passengers be reimbursed if they test positive for COVID-19 on board?
Travelweek has reached out to Celebrity Cruises for comment but has not had a response, as has parent company Royal Caribbean Group, which declined to comment.
Travelweek then reached out to Laziza Lambert, director of strategic communications and public affairs at CLIA, who said business matters such as refunds and credits were outside the purview of CLIA as a trade association representing the whole. of the cruise community.
“However, what I can tell you is that scenarios like this further validate the industry’s approach, which incorporates preventive measures as well as response measures. Both are equally important and necessary, regardless of vaccination status, ”she said.
“The protocols have been designed with input from scientists and medical experts and include routine tests for passengers and crew, so cases are identified and response procedures activated if necessary,” she added. “When performed according to plan, these procedures are designed both to care for affected passengers and to limit spread among others on board. “
Marianne Vogel, CTC and owner of Just for You Travel & Consulting in Dundas, Ont., Told Travelweek that Celebrity should not be considered at fault if fully vaccinated passengers test positive on a cruise, “but being Celebrity, they will probably offer a goodwill gesture of some sort plus free medical care.
As an avid cruise lover herself, Vogel says if it was her, she wouldn’t expect any sort of compensation or refund from the cruise line.
“It is the passenger’s responsibility to prove they are HIV negative and to get vaccinated before they are allowed to board,” she said. “I doubt these passengers got it on the cruise because they were both in the same cabin. So I guess they picked it up somewhere else, next to the ship. Being vaccinated does not make you invincible, you still have to take precautions. Everyone needs to get COVID-19 insurance right now, I just hope these passengers had it. “
Celebrity being the first cruise line to report cases of COVID-19 on board among fully vaccinated passengers, it is safe to assume that this situation will occur on other cruise lines as they begin to resume operations after an interruption of more than one year. due to the pandemic. So should cruise lines and travel agents do more to inform fully vaccinated customers that the possibility of contracting the virus is still possible and that they would then be isolated on board?
Lambert says this should come as no surprise to cruise passengers, as the medical community has always been clear that there is no such thing as a 100% effective vaccine.
“This is partly why the cruise industry has invested so much planning and research into developing effective response measures, in addition to preventative measures – they work hand in hand,” she said, noting that since last summer, more than 550,000 passengers have sailed aboard CLIA member ocean cruise ships, with an incidence rate much lower than on land. “According to our research, cruisers are very supportive of these measures, with 80% of cruisers saying they are confident in the protocols promoting a healthy and safe environment.”
Vogel, who believes Celebrity has done all she could do in her due diligence to protect her guests and crew on board, says travel agents should encourage customers to get vaccinated and remind them that even they are fully vaccinated and with strict health and safety protocols in place, there is always a risk of contracting the virus.
“I know that I would be very reluctant to book someone who was not fully vaccinated and I would have to have him sign a waiver saying that he fully understood that I had communicated these decisions to him and that I was not responsible for everything that happened as a result, ”explains Vogel. “I also give everyone the most recent rules and regulations for the countries they are visiting, as well as the rules for the airport, planes and cruise ships.”
When asked if the risk of still contracting COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated would deter his cruise customers from booking, Vogel said a few might rethink their plans, but those with the “good news” sense ”will always sail with pleasure.
“I already have a few cruise bookings for 2022 and others are planning to go on honeymoon cruises next year. I also have a few who refuse to get the vaccine,” she said. “Most people realize that they are always at risk – however small – of contracting COVID-19 when they are fully immunized.”