A Carnival Cruise Lines vessel similar to one due in Juneau following a COVID-19 outbreak aboard steams past Douglas in 2021. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire File)

A Carnival Cruise Lines vessel similar to one due in Juneau following a COVID-19 outbreak aboard steams past Douglas in 2021. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire File)

City contacting ship on way to town following COVID outbreak

The ship, due to arrive here Saturday, experienced an outbreak enroute from Miami to Seattle.

The city is reaching out to a vessel scheduled to arrive in Juneau on Saturday that had an aboard-ship COVID-19 outbreak en route from Miami to Seattle.

The outbreak about the Carnival Spirit was dealt with in-port in Seattle with all infected passengers put ashore, said a Carnival Cruise Lines representative, but concerns remain.

“We’re working on getting in contact with this particular ship,” said Juneau deputy city manager Robert Barr in an email.

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Any decision involving denying the vessel to moor in Juneau would be made in consultation with other agencies, including the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Barr said. The Carnival Spirit, which has capacity for 2,124 guests listed, is due to make port in Juneau on the morning of May 7.

“The Carnival Spirit team managed a number of COVID cases during its Panama Canal journey that departed Miami on April 17 and arrived in Seattle on May 3. There were no serious health issues, and while some guests showed minor symptoms, most were asymptomatic,” said Matt Lupoli, a senior public relations manager for Carnival Cruise Lines, in an email. “In addition, all guests who were scheduled to continue on with the ship’s next cruise to Alaska were tested and any guests who tested positive were disembarked.”

Lupoli did not provide an exact number of COVID-19 cases on board.

There are agreements in places with the cruise lines in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak aboard, Barr said. In some cases, in-port organizations may assist the cruise ship with assisting the infected, Barr said.

“In the port agreements we have with each major cruise ship line, the lines commit to having sufficient medical capacity and quarantine/isolation space to care for passengers and crew,” Barr said. “That said, within Southeast, Ketchikan and Juneau are the two potential locations where some shore side services could be provided, if we have capacity. Other ports in the Southeast are generally too small to have capacity.”

That agreement extends to transporting passengers to larger care centers if onboard capacity is swamped and shoreside medical capability is insufficient, Barr said.

“In the event onboard capacity is insufficient and any support we or (Ketchikan) are able to provide does not meet the need, the lines all agree to transport passengers/crew back to Seattle for care,” Barr said.

Juneau is seeing a slight uptick in COVID-19 numbers but there’s insufficient data to point to a cause at this time, Barr said.

“There are too many variables at this point in the pandemic. That said, if we have had transmission locally specifically from cruise ships, it’s too early for those cases to be showing up in the data. Next week at the earliest,” Barr said. “In general most of our case activity starts with a travel or community spread based case that then brings it back to their living situation and we see a handful of secondary (family members) test positive from there.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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