American Cruise Lines (ACL) has been forced to cut an Alaskan cruise short and cancel another after three people aboard tested positive for COVID-19.
After setting sail from Petersburg, Alaska with 162 passengers and 52 crew onboard, the ACL ship was forced to return to Juneau only a day into the journey. After two vaccinated passengers tested symptomatic for coronavirus, one unvaccinated crew member tested positive for the virus.
ACL said it was also canceling its next cruise -- scheduled for July 14 -- purely as a precautionary measure and that the people who tested positive would remain in Petersburg to isolate themselves from others. While most of the ship’s crew had been vaccinated, the company said they would remain on the ship in quarantine until local health authorities in Juneau gave clearance.
“State and local officials in Alaska have been engaged, and have been working together with American Cruise Lines to ensure a swift and effective implementation of the Response Plan,” an ACL spokesman told ConsumerAffairs.
Is COVID-19 testing efficient enough to be safe for travelers?
Cruise lovers are among the most dedicated of travelers, and they’ve sat through more than a year of uncertainty from authorities and unsuccessful test journeys. Now that some restrictions have been lifted and cruise lines have been given the OK to sail, the real test begins.
American Cruise Lines stock and trade is not the same as other major cruise lines like Celebrity or Princess; the company has a more diverse portfolio of cruises that focuses mainly on river cruises. The company had carried some 10,000 passengers on 130 voyages since its return to sailing in March, and this is the first coronavirus-related incident it has weathered since then.
So, is what happened to ACL a predictor of what other cruise lines and travelers might encounter? Who knows. For its part, ACL told ConsumerAffairs that it follows all local COVID-19 protocols in every one of the 31 states it travels through. While there’s no language mandating that passengers be vaccinated on one of ACL’s cruises, the company’s website says all passengers are tested as part of the boarding process and that it “strongly recommends COVID-19 vaccine for all eligible guests.”
The most important takeaway from this incident is that cruisers need to be ready for anything. To help, here are a couple of sites you should double-check at least two weeks before setting sail:
Vaccination requirements. CruiseCritic offers an excellent list of both river and sea cruise lines and what each company’s vaccination requirements are.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ship status. The CDC offers a complete and up-to-date report of confirmed cases of COVID-19 or coronavirus-like illnesses that ships have reported.