May 5, 2022 – Passengers on a Carnival cruise that docked in Seattle on Tuesday said the ship was overwhelmed after more than 100 people tested positive for COVID-19.
Multiple passengers told KING 5, an NBC affiliate in Seattle, that they’re staying in hotels around Seattle to quarantine after testing positive or being exposed to someone with COVID-19. Carnival Cruise Line didn’t confirm how many people tested positive.
“As soon as I got diagnosed with COVID, I did not feel safe,” Darren Sieferston, a passenger on the cruise from Miami to Seattle, told the news station.
Sieferston, a Nevada resident, tested positive on the ship and is now in quarantine at a hotel. He said he’s taken seven cruises since August 2021 and each trip had COVID-positive passengers, yet this one felt “chaotic.”
“They didn’t have enough staff to handle the emergency that was happening, period,” he said. “They were overwhelmed, and they didn’t have a backup course in how to handle about 200 people affected with COVID. We all suffered.”
Passengers told KING 5 that they waited for hours for meals, weren’t properly isolated, and couldn’t reach medical staff on the ship. Sieferston also shared a photo that showed the names and room numbers of people who tested positive, which hung outside of the elevator on his floor.
“I think that they were unprepared. I think they were understaffed. I think that they were overwhelmed,” Walter Babij, a passenger from Texas, told the news station.
“I don’t think they had clear guidance as to how to handle this,” he said.
Passengers got off the ship on Tuesday, and the ship left that afternoon on the next trip to Alaska. In a statement, Carnival Cruise Line told KING 5 that “guests who were scheduled to continue on with the ship’s next cruise to Alaska were tested and any guests who tested positive were disembarked.”
The cruise line also said it managed “a number of COVID cases during its 16-day Panama Canal sailing,” but there were no serious health issues. It said most guests didn’t have symptoms, and health and safety protocols were followed, such as vaccination requirements and pre-cruise testing for all guests.
“Our protocols are designed to flex up as needed and additional measures were implemented during the voyage, including mask requirements for guests,” the cruise line said.
Typically, guests pay for quarantine costs, but the cruise line made a slightly different arrangement in this case, according to The Washington Post.
“Normally guests are responsible for quarantine costs, but because so many of our guests were far from home, we made the hotel arrangements and have offered to share the cost of their lodging while they remain in Seattle to complete their five-day quarantine,” Matt Lupoli, a Carnival spokesperson, told the newspaper.
The CDC is investigating the ship and placed it under observation, according to the agency’s cruise ship status dashboard. Among the cruise ships that opted into the CDC’s COVID-19 monitoring program, 53 of 92 ships have reported enough cases to meet the threshold for investigation. That includes two dozen ships under cruise lines operated by Carnival Corp.