Passengers aboard cruise ship in Charlottetown confident in COVID-19 measures

·3 min read
Passengers aboard cruise ship in Charlottetown confident in COVID-19 measures

Some passengers aboard a cruise ship that docked in Charlottetown Friday said they're confident with the onboard COVID-19 measures, despite the number of cases on the ship triggering a U.S. Centers for Disease Control investigation.

The Viking Octantis became the first cruise ship to dock at the Charlottetown harbour, and the first to arrive in the region since the pandemic began.

The ship now meets the 0.3 per cent threshold of suspected or confirmed cases that leads to a CDC investigation.

"Viking has taken exceptional precautions, including having a COVID lab on board," said passenger Walt Okon of Northern Virginia.

"We are tested every morning for COVID. They have sensors in the hallway which measure your temperature. We feel more than safe here."

CBC News spoke with several passengers while they were ashore.

Milly Franks from Arizona said passengers don't have to wear masks on the ship.

"Some people wear masks, but not all ... it's not bad," said Franks.

Cruise requirements

As per the federal government's COVID-19 rules, people over the age of 12 must be fully vaccinated to board a cruise ship docking in Canada. Some cruise lines require vaccinations for anyone five and older.

Passengers also need to get a molecular test taken within 72 hours before they board their cruise, as well as an antigen test no more than two days before boarding.

"We're fully vaccinated. We booked the trip a while ago and it got postponed, so it's like as soon as they let us do it, we're ready to do it," said John Stevens of Missouri.

Stevens said he believes in the efficacy of the vaccine and is not concerned about contracting COVID-19. But he was still a bit surprised when he found out cruises would be allowed to resume operations in Canada.

"I'm surprised they're letting us in because [the pandemic's] not really over," he said.

Marie McInerney of Pennsylvania said she's been looking to go on a cruise ship since the pandemic started, but that it wasn't until now she felt safe to do so.

"This was supposed to be a Prague to Amsterdam cruise in March of 2020, which obviously got cancelled, so we kept pushing it back and pushing it back," she said. "We just thought Canada would be a wonderful place to visit, it'd be close to home and probably as safe as we could get."

What happens if a passenger tests positive

The Viking Octantis has over 400 people on board. Anyone who is confirmed or suspected of COVID-19 must isolate, and there are procedures in place for passengers who have to disembark if they test positive.

Gerri and Steve Hether from Arizona boarded the cruise in New York City. Before COVID-19, the couple regularly took cruise trips, travelling worldwide.

"They go out of their way to take care of you," Steve said. "It's really a very nice experience."

"And they are following COVID-19 protocols, so that's very comforting for us," Gerri added. "We're just really excited to be travelling again."

The Viking Octantis is one of 74 cruise ships expected to dock in Charlottetown in 2022.

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