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COVID-19: Attacking the Cruise Industry is a Cheap and Meritless Shot. Enough of the Hype, Fear & Media Circus. What are the Facts?

This is not a political article.
This is not a sales pitch.
This is an attempt to interject some sanity and rational thought to a viral situation that, other than to a small minority, should not really impact the lives of billions (that’s right: billions) of people.

There is a battle going on regarding the coronavirus known as COVID-19. The battle is between government, the media and reality.

And I am not just talking about President Trump only being worried about keeping his numbers down  (the number of COVID-19 positive cases in the US) resulting in his demanding a Princess cruise ship be held off the coast against literally every medical opinion out there…and said it is the worst possible approach as to how to deal with the human beings on the ship, but combining that with a single person related to “his” government irresponsibly saying that if there is one thing you shouldn’t do is take a cruise…and he did so with absolutely no scientific or statistical basis for same…and the media running with it!

Oh, you think I am just saying that is totally irresponsible and outrageous because I am in the travel business? Read on!

[After originally writing this article Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force expert Dr. Fauci made a total reversal after putting the cruise industry into a tailspin stating:

I think if you are healthy young person, there is no reason — if you want to go on a cruise ship go on a cruise ship. Personally, I would not going to push it because I do not like cruises. But that is another story. But the fact is, if you have the conditions that I have been speaking about over and over again to this group, namely an individual who has an underlying condition, particularly in and early per person that has an underlying conditions i would recommend strongly that they do not go on a cruise ship.

The irresponsibility of making a claim that you should never go on a cruise ship and then, twenty-four hours later…and only when prompted at a news conference…to say that you can safely cruise is beyond reprehensible as the damage done is indescribably enormous.] 

According to Cruise Market Watch at then end of 2018 (the most recent verified figures) there were 314 cruise ships carrying approximately 537,000 passengers at time with 26,000,000 passengers annually. Of course there are a few additional cruise ships as of March 2020 and along with that some additional passengers as well. Out of those 314 cruise ships and half a million passengers there have only been two ships (both Princess) that had any COVID-19 issues that affected but only a few guests and more so crew (but still limited numbers).

I won’t get into how the Japanese government totally blew the handling of the Diamond Princess or how Princess Cruises didn’t do much better in relation to instituting proper protocols.  But what I will get into is that the Diamond and Grand Princess each carry about 4,000 people (passengers and crew), or 8,000 total. Of the Diamond Princess 4,000 – after pretty much insisting everyone on the Diamond Princess – most of whom are considered in the higher risk categories (older and/or with underlying conditions) be repeatedly exposed to the virus over a period of weeks – only about 17% were infected while on the Grand Princess only 2 guests of 2,400 tested positive so far.

Take a moment, think about that and then think about this: There have been no instances of COVID-19 on 312 of 314 cruise ships.  Why, because the vast majority of cruise ships (especially the luxury ones) are bastions of cleanliness. Staff are constantly cleaning, hand sanitizers are ubiquitous, cleaning and service protocols are in place and the rate of illness (other than the Diamond Princess) is actually lower than in other environs.  Add to that the increased screening now being undertaken before anyone can board a cruise ship.  Put another way: Imagine how few would have become ill without the Diamond Princess and Japanese government mishandlings!  You would actually say, “Put me on a cruise ship because it is cleaner and safer there!”

In contrast, consider that in just New York City 4,300,000 people ride the New York subway every day and use 6,714 cars and 1,100-plus commuter rail cars, along with 472 subway stations, 21 stations on Staten Island Railway, 124 stations and terminals on the Long Island Rail Road and 101 Metro-North stations. If you have ever ridden on this system you will know that it is not, to be kind, one of the cleanest place on earth and even now, if you were to clean it twice a day it only takes minutes for one of those 4,300,000 people to cough, sneeze, wipe their hands onto a surface for it to be recontaminated.

Imagine if you were on the aforementioned subway, packed in with at least a dozen people within six feet and the remnants of hundreds of people who just previously were in your pace and you later became ill, you would not identify with the subway, could not make a definite connection and you would have traveled to dozens of places before the onset of any symptoms so those folks could not make the connection back to your subway ride. On a cruise you are there on the ship. Now whether you got ill in a port or on the ship is never considered, but what is known is that you are on the ship and it can be identified.

It really irked me when one WHO person said the fatality rate was over 3% and after the media ran with that, the experts universally said they expected that rate to fall significantly when there is better reporting and more testing. WAIT. HUH? So the WHO put out a statistic it new was scientifically and statistically invalid? What was the legitimate purpose of doing that?  Oh, and by the way, that rate was based in a very large part on the inclusion of Chinese data…and did not take into account subpar medical care.

We hear that the virus is most serious with people who are older and/or have underlying medical conditions. What the heck does “older” mean?  That is not a “condition”. So someone says “over 60” and that is run with. Why? Where was that scientifically and statistically established?  Oh, yeah, it wasn’t.  From the published information available, “Patients who reported no pre-existing (“comorbid”) medical conditions had a case fatality rate of 0.9%.” 

So how do they get to 3%? People in the 80+ range have a 15% fatality rate, 70-79 are at 8% and 60-60 is 3.8%.  But go and find how many of them also suffered from one of the cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, hypertension, cancer and/or diabetes…because that combination statistic isn’t readily found..and is most relevant because most people that are 70+ suffer from at least one of them. According to a journal article in Clinical Geriatric Medicine essentially over 70% of people over 60 have cardiovascular disease and in another article it states at about 17% suffer from chronic respiratory issues.  Want to add to these figures the number of active smokers in China? I do. About 60% of Chinese men smoke.

So with the science and statistics showing that the issue is not cruise related and is really not primarily age related, why are government’s just closing their ports to cruise ships? What was it that President Trump and “his” officials saying without any scientific or epidemiological support?  But almost all of those same governments are allowing people to fly, drive and train into their countries with nothing more than a temperature screening…and then to travel far and wide around their countries. It makes no sense…and I believe eventually – and hopefully soon – sense will become part of the equation.

To be sure, based largely upon governmental pressure (also known as directives or guidance) public and private institutions are, for now, taking draconian approaches to avoid or supposedly minimize “community spread”…but to what ultimate end? To avoid lawsuits? Political fallout?  We hear everyday that it now in X and then in Y. And then we hear, that there are most certainly far more cases, but people aren’t reporting them because the symptoms are so mild if at all. It is as the mantra, “We have to do something even if it really is ineffective so we can say we did something.

Why am I optimistic about sensibility and science become relevant again? Because I am speaking and emailing with clients, doctors and cruise line employees…and filtering through the news…and fear of COVID-19 has dropped at a remarkable rate among people and private doctors…not governments or bureaucrats .  This is because people are:

  • (A) Finding responsible ways to educate themselves; and
  • (B) The reality that this virus is not fatal or even serious for the vast majority of people

To be sure, I do not seek to belittle COVID-19, but rather keep perspective as to the disease, how to effectively prevent getting it and, most importantly, how to live with its existence as we do with colds, flu and so many other diseases.

In the meantime, while all this is sorted out, remember that things will get better. COVID-19 will become better understood. Governments will realize that irrationally shutting down so many avenues to economic growth will only hurt their economies and their people (and their political fortunes).  Life will go on and people will travel.

As we go through this my suggestion is not to make any emotional or panicked actions. Calmly consider your options and when you must make that decision to cancel a trip. Until you are getting to that time, take a moment, take a breath and then: Don’t make a decision until you have to, because things are going to change. 

And while you are waiting, think of your next trip. You know the one you want to take in a few months or a year from now…and book it. You have no downside and it gives you something positive to look forward to.

And if you have any travel questions give me a call, drop me an email or send me a Facebook message!

US: (877) 2GO-LUXURY (877-246-5898)
UK: 020 8133 3450
AUS: (07) 3102 4685
Everywhere Else: +1 530 562 9232

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