The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been spreading through communities around the country, and around the world, and due to this variant’s ability to spread quickly some attention on the virus has now been turned toward cruise lines.
Following an initial outbreak in the early weeks of the Omicron surge aboard a Royal Caribbean ship, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has begun conducting an independent investigation using ships and cruise lines throughout the industry to learn more about how the virus is spreading onboard ships. All four Disney Cruise Line ships that are currently operating are included in the investigation, along with nearly 90 other ships by brands like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Lines.
The threshold by which the CDC determines if a cruise ship should fall under the investigation varies by the case count between Guests and crew members in proportion to the ship’s total capacity. Ships may be included in the investigation if the CDC is notified of at least one COVID-19 positive crew member or .10% of passengers, with the exact number varying based on the capacity of the ship. It should be noted that at this time Disney Cruise Line and most other major cruise lines are still not running at their full passenger capacities.
The goal of the CDC’s investigation is not to punish cruise lines or those working in the industry but to ensure that safety measures can be enhanced to prevent further spreading of COVID-19 and to confirm that medical resources aboard the ship would not be overwhelmed in the event of an outbreak.
With so many health and safety regulations in place to sail aboard Disney Cruise Line and most others in the industry right now, including multiple rounds of testing, proof of vaccination, and indoor mask requirements, the COVID-19 case counts onboard ships is a testament to how quickly this variant of the virus is able to spread.
Disney Cruise Line is closely following the industry standard in terms of health and safety protocol, requiring vaccinations by all eligible Guests, and proof of negative COVID-19 test results (both 24 hours and three days in advance of sailing depending on the Guests’ age.) While on the Disney Fantasy, Disney Dream, Disney Magic, and Disney Wonder, Guests are required to mask up while indoors and follow physical distancing guidelines. Additionally, some activities remain closed or are limited capacity, and Guests are required to select times to disembark and sign up for certain events to ensure distancing will be possible.
While the cruise industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, has plans to expand in the coming year. The newest to join the fleet, the Disney Wish , will launch in spring 2023, and the company just announced another home port to be located in Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, FL, in addition to , FL.
In the theme parks, particularly at the Walt Disney World Resort as many Guests combine a visit to a Disney park with their Disney Cruise Line vacation, masks are still required while indoors, character sightings are still physically distanced, and we are still waiting for many events to return, however some like the Keys to the Kingdom Tour at the Magic Kingdom and Wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be returning in 2022. Additionally, Walt Disney World still offers modified versions of select entertainment, like the Festival of the Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and others, like Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, will not return until some time in 2022.
We will keep you updated if the investigation reveals new information from the variant’s impact on cruising, and on changes to health and safety guidelines aboard Disney Cruise Line and in Disney theme parks as we have them.