COVID-19 testing for cruise ship crew has been ongoing since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and it continues to be a requirement for crew working onboard. Although the world is waiting for when cruising will resume, there are still officers and crew onboard maintaining these ships. How often are crew tested for COVID-19 and what testing protocols are the cruise lines following?
Negative PCR Test Prior to Working on Cruise Ships
To work onboard cruise ships, crew must undergo a series of COVID-19 tests, in addition to their Marine Medical Exam. For starters, crew are required to test negative for COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of leaving their home countries. It is up to the crewmember to get themselves tested by an authorized facility and forward the required documentation to their hiring partner. In addition, some airlines will also require documentation of a negative COVID-19 test in order to fly.
Crew are tested again prior to boarding their cruise ship. In the chance that the crewmember contracts COVID-19 after their initial test or during their travels enroute to the ship via an airplane or hotel stay, this additional test is an extra safeguard. Once onboard, the crewmember is put in quarantine.
Cruise Ship Crew Quarantine Requirements
Shipboard quarantines for crew vary by cruise line and by cruise ship. Cruise lines such as TUI Cruises and Costa Cruises (which are currently operating a limited number of cruises with passengers) requires the crew member to spend 14 days in quarantine. While many other cruise lines, without passengers onboard are only requiring a 7-day quarantine. In general, the crew member is not allowed to leave their cabin during the quarantine period.
A typical quarantine cabin features a balcony and room service. Room service isn’t typically an order off the menu type of food delivery service. You basically get only a few options to choose from. Additionally, access to movies on demand, free WhatsApp, limited wifi, and free laundry service are also provided on most ships. During the quarantine period, crew are generally paid a reduced pay rate similar to a travel rate or room/board rate.
Other Health Testing for Crew
After the quarantine period, crew must do daily body temperature screenings. Also, some cruise lines test all their crew monthly for COVID19 while others test their crew every 14 days. Prior to disembarking and once the crewmember’s contract is complete, another PCR test is done. Many countries and airlines require a negative COVID19 test from the crewmember 72 hours before disembarking or boarding a plane. In addition, many countries require anyone entering their country to take another PCR test and quarantine upon arrival.
Posted March 3, 2021