The Carnival Magic’s return to Texas after a cruise overshadowed by panic over a passenger’s potential exposure to Ebola reveals the dangers for the cruise industry from health scares. Greg Miller at IHS Maritime 360* Fairplay writes:
Carnival was advised on 15 October that one of its passengers may have processed fluid samples from an Ebola patient in Texas. The lab technician and her travel partner agreed to be quarantined in their cabin.
The next day, however, the government of Belize turned down a US request for her to transit one of its airports, although other passengers were allowed to disembark for the port visit.
On 17 October, the Carnival Magic was scheduled to call in Cozumel but Mexican authorities refused clearance, so all passengers were effectively barred from the port.
Carnival agreed to give all guests a $200 credit and a 50% discount off a future cruise.
The ship then headed back to Texas, although Carnival said on 18 October that health officials there “felt it was necessary for the healthcare worker currently on the Carnival Magic to submit a blood sample for testing prior to the ship’s arrival in Galveston”.
A US Coast Guard helicopter met the cruise ship and collected the sample, which was negative for Ebola.
The cruise ship arrived on schedule in Galveston on the morning of 19 October and all passengers disembarked without incident.
Later that day, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) issued a statement outlining guidance for cruise lines.
CLIA recommended denial of boarding for any passenger or crew arriving from any country designated with a Level 3 Travel Health warning by the Centers for Disease Control, and for anyone who has travelled to any of those countries within the past 21 days.
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CLIA further recommended ‘contact screening’ and denial of boarding for any passenger or crew “who had physical contact with, or helped care for, a person with Ebola within 21 days before disembarkation”.
“These measures are not static, ” said CLIA president Christine Duffy.
“CLIA and its member lines are continually evaluating the situation with Ebola and are in regular contact with public health officials to assess the need to enhance the industry’s protocols.”