Once you’ve passed the Covid test for embarkation and extended cruising (longer voyages) the name of the game becomes how to not test again. If you test positive during your cruise voyage and the ship knows about it you will be isolated and your close contacts quarantined, and tested too!
I'm not suggesting that you CHEAT. I am writing this to let you know of the different ways you could end up being required to test again, even though you yourself are not sick. Covid is confusing. Vaccinated people can test positive and have no symptoms. People with no symptoms do very little spreading of the virus. So just follow the rules and avoid testing when you can.
If you do feel sick, I am suggesting that you test yourself, [affiliate link] and then just lay low until you deterimine if you are sick or not. Stay in your cabin as much as possible. Mask appropriately when not in your cabin. Avoid crowded venues. Just be nice to others. If you can't be nice, and really feel unwell, then go to the ships doctor for a test! If you test positive they will make sure you don't mix with others.
Depending on the brand of the cruise, if the cruise line discovers that you test positive for Covid19 you may be confined to the room that you booked or moved to a different room in an entirely separate area of the ship designated to isolate Covid positive guests and crew. You may spend the rest of your cruise in that room - Symptoms or NO Symptoms!
Pictured above is the Covid ward onboard the Emerald Princess - blue must mean “not in use” as the ship had 0% Covid onboard during out recent cruise in February of 2022. But the area remained designated and ready for positive testing guests or crew.
Having a Close contact that tests positive can cause you to be quarantined for a period of time, until you can be tested, and satisfy a given cruise line's policy of proof that you are negative (not sick). Who wants to do that in the midst of their vacation? But there is always the risk that you test positive too.
Quarantine - What you do if you are not up to date with your vaccinations, or suspect that you may have been exposed to an active case of Covid19. Stay home (or in your cabin) for the currently prescribed duration of time, until testing verifys that you are not infected. This may include multiple tests over a series of consecutive days. Otherwise known as "being nice"
Isolation - What you do after testing positive, with or without symptoms. Be alone, or with others who also test positive on the same timeline as you. Wear a mask if you must be in contact with others. Since the population on a ship is very dense - you should be confined to your cabin. If you can't "be nice" in that way - then let someone force you.
Depending on where in the world you are cruising, you may qualify for further isolation in a hotel beyond the end date of your cruise. So be sure to bring along any extra vitamins or RX that you might possibly need. For our recent 15 Night Cruise through the Panama Canal, I had a 30 day supply of vitamins and even more Rx. I wouldn’t want to be isolated because I had Covid and not have all of my normal preventative vitamins and minerals! What a horrible feeling that would be. Scary... for sure.
These are the extras that I brought back home. I’m happy to use them now and it’s very convenient!
Yes we are fully vaccinated and boosted - most Cruise Lines are requiring that at this time. Interestingly, because of the Omicron breakthrough infections in vaccinated people - you could be positive and not even know it. Even though positive people who are asymptomatic are NOT superspreaders they will still isolate you as a precautionary measure. If you test yourself, [affiliate link] - you can also isolate yourself, which I perceive to be more comfortable.
If you are fully vaccinated AND have had Covid19 and recovered from it within the past 90 days, get a letter of recovery from your doctor and bring it with you! This could prevent you from being tested as an asymptomatic close contact of someone who tests positive.
There are several things that you would normally do that could cause you to be targeted for testing. So think about it ahead of time and consider doing something slightly different, that could be more safe at this time.
Cruise ships have been contact tracing effectively for a long time. The contact tracing they do is (was) for a different reason or at least it used to be. They have been tracking people to see where they eat and drink as a method of dividing up gratuities among the crewmembers. Anytime they ask for your room number or to scan your Ship card you know you are being tracked. Since they started using digital ship access devices such as Princess's Medallion pictured below, or Virgin Voyage's bracelets, it should be no surprise that you receive a coupon for that watch or jewelry you stopped to admire in a ship store. Yep - contact tracing for marketing is common.
Once cleared as negative and onboard the ship, just do your best to avoid further testing.
Recently we noticed on a Royal Caribbean voyage that we were being tracked on the way in AND out of the BUFFET DINING AREA. We wondered momentarily what that was about, as we slid by the line and person scanning cards. As soon as I thought of what could be happening we returned and asked to have our card scanned to let them know we had gone out, just about as quickly as we went in. We had gone to the Buffet area to fill our cups with lemonade. We were in there less than five minutes. If they were counting heads for tips we would want them to know that we were only in there for five minutes and the tip should reflect that. But if they were tracking people for Covid we would also want them to know that we did not even sit down at a table. The point was they would be able to see by our scan on the way in, and scan on the way out, that we were not there long enough to do anything that could cause us to need to be tested for Covid because someone else in there at the same time tests positive in the days to come. - So please make sure that if they are scanning ship cards or devices on the way out of any area that you don't slide on by. Get your card scanned too. You want them to know that you LEFT!
Another thing that causes people to get tested when they didn’t ask to be, is because they participated in a shore excursion with a group of people from the ship. You rode a bus together to a destination, had an experience that lasted a chunk of the day, and returned. If one of the people you spent several hours with on the bus and at the destination becomes ill and requests to be tested, and then tests positive they will round you up and test you too.
- Because of this we recommend not doing the ship's shore excursions. There are plenty of third party sources for GREAT experiences. You can save money, enjoy a less crowded experience, and ultimately save yourself from being tested for Covid19.
This is a private Zipline excursion that we purchased - three guides - and three participants! We got a private cab ride to the site. The Cruise Line does not know where we were or who we were with. Everyone masked appropriately, and had a GREAT day! WE bought it through Shore Excursions Group - affiliate link here - yes of course we buy from ourselves!
Next Scenario: Your travel companion visits the ship Dr. for something seemingly insignificant. The ship Dr will test them for COVID-19 to protect themself. Results positive? Wait for the call - you will be summoned to test next. - We suggest packing anything you might possibly need. Cold medicine, bandaids, ear drops, yep all of it. Don't go to the ship doctor if you can avoid it. There is a reason they are advertising on the ship TV that the Doctor is free. They are attempting to recruit people for covid tests to keep covid off the ship. That's great but.... do you really have time for that?
Next Scenario: Your friends who are on the same cruise visit the doctor for something and end up being tested for Covid19. Results positive? And your booking is tied to their's by a well meaning travel agent or cruise line rep, with a TWID code? (Travel with I D) Wait for the call - you will be summoned to test next. I mean they KNOW you’ve all been in close contact, dining together, going to shows, etc. - We suggest requesting that your travel agent or cruise line booking agent NOT to tie your booking to any other booking for this reason. Sure your friends can sail on the same cruise, but the cruise line doesn't need to know that. If you hear that a friend tests positive, lay low and test yourself.. [affiliate link]
Next up: who else have you been in close contact with? Did you sit with a stranger for dinner? If so - that was “documented”. Did the dining staff seat you together. They know who they sat you with. Sitting with strangers for dinner is more than enough time to pass covid to one another, face to face. - We suggest that you just ask for a table for two - and socialize when no one‘s tracking you instead! Sit in outdoor areas, to talk to strangers. Sit where no one is monitoring you. It is just safer right now.
Sure everything has opened up. But Emergency rooms are still slammed and covid floors are packed full. Cruise ships are experimenting and tracking people very carefully to see what happens. The only thing constant about cruise policies right now is CHANGE.
Got another idea? Send me a reply. I LOVE to hear what you can think of.
We are NOT suggesting that anyone be irresponsible. Wouldn't you just rather manage the situation yourself? Rob and I have managed to avoid all versions of Covid19 for two years! We don't intend to get any now. We travel prepared. We wear KN95 masks in populated areas. We had along with us 4 Covid tests. If one of us had felt bad, or questionable, we would have used one to find out. We understand how it works. We understand what to do. We conduct ourselves in a responsible manner, we don't need anyone else to manage us.
Recently we cruised for 15 Nights with Princess from Los Angeles > Through the Panama Canal > and back to Fort Lauderdale. Initially we had to test 3 times. We tested once at home before flying. Princess tested us at Embarkation in Los Angeles. During the first two days on the ship we were only allowed to dine with our own cabin mates. On day 2 or 3, Princess tested everyone again. These subsequent tests were MANDATORY. But after completing them they had verified with reasonable certainty that 100% of the ship guests were Covid Free! After that we were free to socialize indoors with masks on, unless seated at a table. We were also required to comply with the regulations in the shore destinations - that ALL required masks indoors and out. We had a GREAT time! Who cares about masking? - just do it!
During the very first sea day we met another couple in an outdoor area. We talked for a while and really enjoyed one another. As we got to know each other better, we all figured out that we were ALL very careful about masking and conduct before the cruise while at home, and equally so on the ship. We decided early on that we all felt comfortable being a bubble. This meant that the four of us could dine together, hang out together indoors or out, with or without masks. We did excursions in 4 ports of call and ate most meals on the ship together! We had a GREAT TIME! We wish we lived closer.. They were from Maine, we live in Illinois.
Here's to YOU Mark and Daniel! - We sincerely hope our path's cross again some day. WE had so much FUN! Laughing - Laughing & Laughing more! Love you BOTH!
Disclaimer: at Travellikeanarchitect.com we wear many hats. If you happen upon a link within our blog here or at other linked sites, and you click it there is a possibility we could financially benefit from that. I just marked them all in this post as [affiliate link] to make sure that you are "on notice" that if you click AND BUY we might earn a commission. It is our greatest hope that the things we share are of great value to you! We are not paid to publish this work, but we did get a great deal on the cruise. Just like the employee of let's say Kohl's gets a discount on what they buy we do too. As always our opinions are our own and we always aspire to be an authentic voice.