2 passengers on my Celebrity cruise tested positive for COVID-19; here’s what I saw

Jun 11, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

As I reported earlier this week, I’m currently onboard Celebrity Cruises‘ Celebrity Millennium, the first big cruise ship to sail in North America — and to allow American passengers — in more than 15 months. Thursday, two passengers on the ship, which is sailing at only about 30% capacity, tested positive for COVID-19. Here’s a look at what we know about how the situation was handled.

I spent most of Thursday ashore in Aruba, one of three ports on the itinerary and one of two that allowed us to meander about on our own. As such, I booked an independent excursion and spent seven hours exploring caves and lazing on the beach.

Two cases of COVID-19 were found onboard during testing required for re-entry into St. Maarten at the end of the sailing. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

When I returned to the ship, I had messages from several industry colleagues, asking if I had heard the news. St. Maarten requires testing for all passengers on the ship in order for everyone to disembark at the end of the sailing on June 12. The line began testing passengers Thursday, and two of the results came back positive.

For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG’s new cruise newsletter

According to a press release from Celebrity — which required all cruisers 16 and older to be vaccinated for this sailing in order to prevent mass spread of the virus — the passengers, who are in the same cabin, were each tested again, and the second test came back positive also.

As a result, the line turned to the new protocols it has been developing for the past several months during the industry’s hiatus and enacted its contact tracing methods to reach out to passengers who were likely to have been exposed.

I was told I would have to stay in my room until I could be tested and the results came back negative. I ordered room service because I had to miss dinner, and it arrived hot, beautifully plated and delicious. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

Around 6 p.m. on Thursday, I was informed that the ill passengers, who are asymptomatic, were on the same shore excursion as I was two days ago in Barbados and that I should proceed down to Deck 3’s conference center to be tested. (I had originally signed up to be tested Friday morning, a process that Celebrity made rather easy with the help of a QR code and a web-based scheduling system.)

When I reached the check-in desk outside the conference center, I was told to go back to my cabin and that one of the ship’s nurses would come to test me. (The testing facility has extended hours until midnight tonight for anyone who wants to voluntarily be swabbed, but those who had close contact with the passengers who tested positive are being given priority.)

In the hour and 45 minutes that followed, I received a phone call to tell me to remain in my cabin and verify that a nurse was coming; an in-person visit from two officers who apologized for the inconvenience and reminded me, again, to stay in my cabin; and another phone call to verify that a nurse was on her way and that I’d have access to unlimited Wi-Fi and free on-demand movies.

The ship is offering free on-demand movies for quarantined passengers to watch while they wait for their test results. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek, The Points Guy)

From the start, Celebrity has been totally transparent about what’s happening, and the captain of Celebrity Millennium, which is carrying about 600 passengers and 700 crew, made an announcement to say that 200 passengers had been tested since the first two positives had been detected, and no additional positive results were found.

At about 7:45 p.m., a nurse wearing lots of PPE and a gentleman in a suit, mask and face shield knocked on my door, at which point I was given a PCR test by the nurse. Although it was uncomfortable, it was pretty painless.

When I spoke with the first person who called me on the phone, I asked how long the test results take to come back. She said two hours, max, but the man who accompanied the nurse who administered my test told me that it would take several hours, and I might not have my results until Friday morning.

Because the isolation meant I had to miss dinner, I ordered room service. When it arrived, I yelled through the door to ask the crew member delivering it to please leave it outside the door for me, as I was awaiting a test result. He obliged.

The cruise line delivered sparkling wine and chocolates to my cabin while I was waiting for my test results. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

Several minutes later, another knock revealed a member of the culinary staff, who stopped by to deliver sparkling wine and chocolates.

Celebrity took good care of me while I waited for my results to come back, which happened around 10:30 p.m., when I got a call from the hotel director. However, although I tested negative, I have to remain in my cabin until the morning, as the medical team wants all results returned before allowing us out and about onboard. (Everyone on the excursion was tested, along with the ill passengers’ room steward and dining room waiters.)

It’s important to note that, statistically, this was bound to happen, and I’m not at all surprised it did. Everyone onboard is fully vaccinated (except for the children, of whom there are only eight), and none of us, including kids, was allowed to board without negative PCR tests pre-cruise.

But vaccines aren’t 100% effective, meaning that there’s still a small chance for a fully inoculated vessel to see a COVID-19 case or two onboard. It’s a risk I knew I was taking when I booked the sailing and one I’d take again in a heartbeat, especially after seeing how well this was handled.

The key here is that, this time around, cruise lines are ready. So far, Celebrity has been up-front about the situation and quick to act to prevent the virus from spreading. It has contacted passengers known to have been potentially exposed to the cruisers who tested positive. It’s testing all of us (at its own expense), and it’s making sure we’re exceedingly comfortable in the process.

Although officials haven’t yet said whether this will affect Celebrity Millennium’s next sailing, the line does have a plan for when this cruise ends.

I asked what will happen to the ill passengers when we reach St. Maarten in two days — we have a sea day tomorrow — and I was told that they will have to disembark, go straight to a hotel and stay there until they return negative test results.

In addition to being the first line to allow Americans back onboard, Celebrity will also be the first line to have a ship sailing from a U.S. port again. Celebrity Edge, helmed by Captain Kate McCue, is set to depart from Fort Lauderdale on June 26 with the same protocols in place.

Featured photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.