There has been a small outbreak of coronavirus aboard the Costa Diadema recently as it sailed around Italy and the islands around Greece. This comes just a short bit after Costa has gotten back to sailing. The cruise line is one of the few currently operating right now (check out a list of others here), so this is definitely disheartening news. They were also particularly deliberate about their health measures. Let’s take a look at the details, as well as what might be next for Costa.
The outbreak occurred on Costa Diadema, a ship which had been chartered by a French sailing organization for this particular cruise. One of Costa’s newest ships, Diadema has a max capacity of almost 5000 guests. Diadema had planned to sail from September 28th to October 12th. The beginning of the cruise went on without any incidents, suggesting that their new health measures were working. Of note is the fact that multiple shore excursions occurred during this itinerary. (Some cruise lines are currently trying out sailing without visiting any ports.)
A surprise came for those aboard the ship when seven guests tested positive for coronavirus on October 10th. Because of the measures in place, these guests were required to have a negative test before boarding. This means that it is likely that they got the virus on one of the shore excursions. These seven guests then got off of the ship at Palermo that same day. Further tests confirmed that the initial positive results were indeed true.
Using new contact tracing technology aboard Diadema, Costa was able to find out if it was likely that these cases were able to spread further than these seven individuals. They determined that there was one other person with symptoms and tested this individual. They were confirmed positive and also left the cruise. They felt confident that no others had coronavirus, and rigorous testing proved that this was true. The cruise then returned to Genoa on October 12th before departing that same day for another two-week cruise. However, this cruise ended early due to France declaring a state of emergency in regards to coronavirus.
It’s hard to determine a takeaway from all of this. It seems that cruises that have strict testing precautions can remain pretty safe, although shore excursions can complicate this. It is hopeful that the cases didn’t spread more, as that suggests that Costa’s health protocols might just be working. It doesn’t seem like this small outbreak is changing Costa’s plans for the future.
While the situation in France might be making things more difficult for Costa, Carnival Corporation (who owns Costa) isn’t too concerned about the future. For them, this is just a bump in the road, and the response is just “part of the protocol that has been developed specifically for these situations.” We’ll have to see if Costa is able to continue sailing safely after this, but we have high hopes.