For decades, cruise lines have been the subject of lawsuits arising out of bacteriological and viral diseases that caused by the negligent implementation of anti-infectious disease measures. Noroviruses, Legionella organisms, salmonella, shigella, and Escherichia coli have all turned a boat packed with festive vacationers into floating public health disasters. Now, some of the world’s largest cruise lines have been infected with COVID-19, which has not only created devastating epidemiological consequences for the ship’s guests, but due to a failure in planning, have turned vessels with over 5,000 passengers into international refugee camps.
By failing to disclose the dangers of boarding a cruise ship during a burgeoning pandemic and failing to make suitable contingency plans in the event of a ship wide contamination, cruise ships have been forced to dock outside of nations that are unwilling to admit hundreds of infected passengers within their borders. The passengers are left afloat without proper medical care, adequate medication, or the support of their families.
Most charts tallying COVID-19 infections by country also include a line for “International Conveyance.” This is legal parlance for the cruise ships that served as incubators for the novel coronavirus. The Diamond Princess alone had 700 infections—at one point exceeding every other country outside of China. Sadly, seven of those infections have resulted in death.