We Contracted COVID On A Cruise Ship – And Didn’t Die!




Catching COVID for us could not have come at a worse time. Although we did not die from COVID, we almost died of boredom and frustration as we were quarantined to our room for the remainder of the cruise.

We were three days into a seven day Bahamas cruise aboard the Carnival Legend. We had just arrived at Princess Cay and were ready for a day of snorkeling with our brand new equipment.

That morning my wife awoke and felt blah, lacked any energy and generally felt run-down. The cruise line had offered free onboard testing to anyone if you felt that you may have been exposed to, or showed symptoms of COVID.

We were both fully vaccinated with two shots each, but not within the window to receive a booster.


We Decided To Test

We were traveling with four other people, one of which was getting up in age. We decided to err on the side of caution as we considered that our older friend had underlying health issues.

We would feel really bad if we did indeed have COVID, and we had passed that onto our friend. We called the onboard medical center and asked to be tested. That’s when the fun began.

A medical staff member showed up at our door a while later in a full red exposure suit, complete with gloves, mask, face shield and medical bag with our tests. We were told to stay in our room while they processed the results.


Where’s The Results?

After 4 hours I called the infirmary to ask about the results that were to take an hour. I was told they would call us right back. When they did the answer was my wife was positive, I was negative.

We had already decided to skip going to the island, my wife now succumbing to tears as she felt frustrated that she would miss out on a major reason we took the cruise in the first place.

The next four days had us running the full gambit of emotions – from frustration to laughter, from anger to sheer boredom. We were restricted to our room and only our room. Everything we needed was to be brought into us.


Different Shifts – Different Protocols

Our major beef was that the delivery of items such as food or medicine varied greatly between shifts and staff. We were left with the distinct impression that the cruise line and staff at all levels were ‘shooting from the hip’.

Room service was hit-and-miss. We were only able to order from the main dining room and food vendors on the ship after explaining the protocols to the room service order taker. Sometimes it showed up on paper plates with small wooden utensils. Sometimes it showed up on plates with regular utensils and cups.

Often the tray was wrapped in a red bio-hazard bag.


It Looked Like A Cheap Movie Murder Scene Outside Our Door

We finished our meals and placed the red bio-hazard trash bag in the hallway, only to have it sit there for days.

If folks were in the hall as I placed our tray outside our door, they would get as far against the opposing wall as they could. Why didn’t the staff clear the bag away rather than leave the bio-hazard bags in the hall?

Alcohol was not allowed to be delivered as the saving grace was all food and drink was charged to the infirmary under a ‘Quarantined Guest’ account.

Our lives basically had come to an abrupt standstill. We could go nowhere outside of the room. We had a dozen onboard TV channels to watch. Guest Services did grant us internet coverage for the remainder of our voyage, albeit only one device being able to use it at a time.

We were fortunate enough to have been able to book a room with an extended balcony. Unfortunately we could spend little time out on the balcony as the phone was ringing every thirty minutes or so with calls from the infirmary, guest services, housekeeping, and staff telling us what the expected disembarkation would be like at our home port.


They Wanted To Split Us Up

During the initial barrage of phone calls from the Medical Officer and the infirmary I was told they were going to isolate my wife to a different room since she was positive. I could stay in our room because I was negative however, I would have to quarantine in the room.

Of course I immediately objected – I was going to stay with and care for my wife! The Medical Officer told me I would have to sign a waiver accepting that responsibility, and that I would probably test positive in the next few days.

My job is to love and care for my wife. To think that they would isolate us in different rooms was beyond absurd to me. Later that day another bio-hazard suit wearing orderly brought by the form for me to sign, keeping it at arms length as I took it. He immediately told me I could keep the pen when I handed the signed form back.


Are We The Only Passengers Affected?

On a few calls we tried to glean as much information about other infections on the cruise. The bright cheerful voice assured us we were the only passengers positive with COVID.

Funny thing about bio-hazard bags in the hallway – if there is any others in the hallway you can see them pretty easy. We could see the room two doors down from ours had tested positive.

We didn’t have to see the bio bags from another couple we were traveling with, we were speaking with them on the phone and learned that they too were now positive.


We Disembarked With Two Dozen People

Our quarantine finally coming to an end, we had arrived in Baltimore and were awaiting an early, escorted departure from the ship. We had been calling back and forth with our travel friends and learned they actually were escorted off before us.

We also heard the folks two doors down from us being lead down the hallway. We had been instructed to place our bags in the hallway the night before. They would be disinfected and waiting for us off the ship. We were also instructed that someone with a cart would help us carry our things off the ship.

All of those protocols changed three times. Finally a call from the chief housekeeper told us to place our bags in the hall. Our room steward saw that and abruptly told us to remain in our room. I explained the chief housekeeper just instructed me to place the bags in the hallway.

A while later a white uniformed crew member arrived to escort us down. There was no cart to put the bags on. The crew member instructed us to follow him. We did although falling behind his very quick pace. My bag falling off my shoulder, our wheeled luggage not cooperating with the pace, it felt as though we were getting the bum’s rush.

As we popped through the alarm sounding metal detectors at the crew gangplank we walked onto the port grounds only to be in the midst of two dozen or so other passengers.

My wife was told that we could call for our ride and those folks could drive in and pick us up, then drive out. If they couldn’t come in a golf cart would drive us to the end of terminal building to meet our ride. Again, all false.

Our ride showed up at the fence line, and we were escorted out on foot by the ground crew. While we’re struggling with our bags the crew member said, “We just don’t want you infecting everyone in the terminal.”


Did Carnival Shoot From The Hip?

I would have expected a certain level of discomfort and boredom. After catching COVID we fully knew the remaining time onboard wouldn’t be pleasant. But the misinformation, the bum’s rush, the large variances in the protocols and treatment leaves us with a bad taste in our mouth about Carnival Cruise Lines.

A lot could be handled differently, if only more consistently. The instructions could have been followed correctly instead of becoming lies.

In the future we will, and will recommend, that we will vacation wherein if an illness occurs we can take charge of that, follow all necessary steps to ensure our health and well being, and not be in a position to have to relegate that to someone else.

And I don’t believe that will be on a Carnival Cruise Ship.