It’s no secret that there were some outbreaks of the coronavirus on several ships owned by the Carnival Corporation, perhaps most notably the Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess and Grand Princess. The Grand Princess in particular saw more than 800 cases of the virus, making it especially concerning. The outbreaks were accompanied by various other troubles, including trying to figure out safety measures during an active outbreak and issues with safely docking the ships. These outbreaks were some of the defining moments in the relationship between cruise lines and the coronavirus, and they set a tone of danger that would ultimately change how cruise lines could operate during the pandemic.
While these outbreaks are largely behind us now (there are still some active cases from these ships even after all this time), some are growing concerned that Carnival Corporation’s businesses did not handle these outbreaks correctly. The United States government wrote a letter detailing an investigation they are beginning on the corporation in order to get to the bottom of it. The investigation is being handled by the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, with the letter being penned by two Democrats: Peter DeFazio and Sean Maloney.
The letter features a number of allegations against Carnival Corporation, including one that suggests that they allowed the virus to continue to spread while knowing the dangers of it. They say that those at Carnival “were aware of the threats to some of its ships and did not take appropriate actions, which may have led to greater infections and the spread of the disease.” They added that “a senior CDC official […] was quoted as saying she had a hard time believing that Carnival was simply “a victim of happenstance.””
The aim of the letter, and indeed the investigation as a whole, is to secure documents from Carnival to learn about their initial response to the virus, as well as how they intend to keep travelers safe in the future. Specifically, they said the following: “we request that you provide the Committee with the information Carnival Corporation cruise lines had, and when, regarding potential infections, public health implications, and possible exposure of its passengers and crew to COVID-19, as well as the decisions made by Carnival Corporation and its various affiliated lines regarding the health and safety of their passengers and crew.”
In order to supply this information, Carnival will need to hand over several important documents. These will include a copy of their Outbreak Prevention and Response Plans, any documents referencing the virus and any correspondence between those at Carnival that dealt with the virus.
The letter gives Carnival Corporation a deadline of May 15, 2020, and it is safe to assume that it will take the government a bit of time to follow up on the received information. We’ll keep you updated on whatever happens next.