The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded 1,359 COVID-19 cases on cruise ships since sailings resumed from US ports at the end of June.
The figures cover the period 26 June-21 October, include both passengers and crew and are supplied by cruise lines as part of the CDC’s conditional sailing order (CSO).
Forty nine cases required hospital treatment and 38 needed medical evacuations from ships, according to cruise line reports.
The numbers were revealed as the CDC announced it is to extend the mandatory CSO system to 15 January 2022, after which it will become voluntary.
The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) estimates 600,000 passengers sailed from US ports between June and October. The CLIA figure does not include crew members.
Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings both said their on-board COVID rates are low.
Royal Caribbean’s Q3 update reported 150 COVID cases among 500,000 passengers worldwide, while NCL said cases were ‘well below what we all saw in the general population at the time’.
The CDC says that, although cruise lines have strict COVID protocols, there have been instances of passengers being symptomatic on the day of embarkation but not revealing their symptoms, as well as evidence some passengers have taken several days to report symptoms to the medical centre.