Cruise ship ‘serious health hazard’ warning over spread of infectious diseases

P&O Cruises show off Arvia’s SkyDome

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When COVID-19 hit, many passengers were left stranded on vessels due to cases onboard. Now, researchers and experts are calling on the industry to do more to prevent future incidents.

Academics have said cruise ships could still be a risk to passengers and locals even though case levels have dropped.

Professor Lora Fleming, from the University of Exeter, said: “Cruise tourism was rapidly expanding pre COVID-19.

“Our research shows it causes major impacts on the environment and on human health and wellbeing.

“We need much better monitoring to generate more robust data for the true picture of these impacts.

“Without new and strictly enforced national and international standardised rules, the cruise industry is likely to continue causing these serious health and environmental hazards.”

Data from the research found that noise and air pollution from the boats could also impact passenger and staff health.

Cruise ships have a bad record when it comes to the environment and cause high levels of pollution in oceans.

Fragile habitats and wildlife have also suffered damage from the boats according to the latest research.

Dr Josep Lloret, from the University of Girona, said: “Our paper highlights that cruising is a prime example of how the fates of our health and environment are intertwined.

“Up until now, most studies have looked at aspects of this in isolation. We now need global legislation to minimise damage on both our oceans and our health.”

Another scientist that worked on the paper, Dr Hrvoje Caric, Institute of Tourism for Croatia, added: “We’ve long known that cruise ships cause damage to the environment.

“However, it’s hugely important to incorporate the impact on human health into that picture.”

When the pandemic struck, The Grand Princess,owned by Princess Cruises, was marooned off San Francisco for several days after 21 passengers tested positive.

More than 800 people were infected when the Ruby Princess docked in Sydney and at least 28 died.

Cruise ship bosses have said that pandemic rules such as increased handwashing and sanitiser could stay in place long after the risk of Covid decreases.

Mask wearing could be dropped in the near future but social distancing could last longer according to industry experts.

Some cruise companies are expected to bring in double-vaccinated rules on guests with unvaccinated people banned from cruising.

Cruises have also faced harsh criticism from ports, with Venice banning liners over pollution and overcrowding fears.

Bruges, Dubrovnik, Santorini and Amsterdam have also put restrictions on cruises from tourist taxes to boat limits.

Cruises saw significant losses during the pandemic, although passenger numbers have recently started to increase.

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