The first cruise ship to Hawaii in two years has arrived with several isolated COVID-19 cases. A state official said those who tested positive had not left the ship.
Grand Princess, who departed Los Angeles on January 4, arrived in Honolulu on Sunday January 9.
Speaking to The Conversation, state Department of Transportation spokesman Jai Cunningham said the cruise line had reported several positive cases of COVID-19 – although it declined to give numbers on passengers or staff.
“The important thing is that the people who were quarantined did not come to O’ahu – and until they are negative they will not be allowed into the state,” Cunningham said. “So much like airplanes, there’s this process in place to try to keep anyone infected with COVID, not to walk around among us, if you will.”
The ship has a capacity of around 3,000 but is traveling with reduced capacity due to the virus. There are 1,188 passengers and just under 1,000 crew members.
Under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s color coding system for cruise ships, Grand Princess has a “yellow” status. This means that the reported cases of COVID-19 have met the CDC investigation threshold.
Criteria for “yellow” status include cases reported in 0.10% or more of passengers, or one or more cases among the crew.
Cunningham said the latest port agreement dictates that at least 99% of passengers on Hawai’i cruise ships must be vaccinated against COVID – the CDC’s requirement is lower, at 95%. Each vessel must have a quarantine / isolation system and medical rooms.
Arriving passengers are subject to the state’s Safe Travels program, as are those arriving by air. Once they present their negative test or proof of vaccination, they are free to travel between the islands, Cunningham said.
Many passengers told The Conversation that they felt comfortable with the risk of traveling and were eager to visit Hawai’i. They said passengers are required to wear masks on the ship unless they eat or drink.
Grand Princess also asked passengers to present a negative COVID-19 test carried out within two days of boarding.
“By checking the statistics, we decided that because we needed to be vaccinated, boosted, tested before boarding the cruise ship, we were no more in danger of being on the cruise ship than going. at the grocery store at home, “said passenger Deb from Ohio.
Kauaʻi, Maui and the Big Island are the next stops for Grand Princess.
“At least for the foreseeable future, any cruise ship that begins to sail from the mainland to here will have to go to the Port of Honolulu first,” Cunningham said. “The mayors felt that with the infrastructure we have here and the facilities, Honolulu should be the first stop and then move on to the neighboring islands.”
Just before New Years Eve, the The CDC issued an advisory, saying, “Avoid cruise travel, regardless of vaccination status. “
“The virus that causes COVID-19 is easily spread between nearby people on ships, and the risk of contracting COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high, even if you are fully vaccinated and have received a dose. COVID-19 vaccine booster, “the CDC said.
Find more information about vaccines and testing sites at hawaiicovid19.com.
This story aired on The Conversation on January 10, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 am on HPR-1.