Cruise passenger says ship was like a ‘petri dish’


(NewsNation Now) — COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships have again become an increasing health concern.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that it’s now investigating or observing 86 cruise ships with reported COVID-19 cases on board, according to its website.

Carnival cruise passenger Ashley Peterson made an appearance on “Morning in America” to talk about her experience aboard a ship with an outbreak.

The Asheville, North Carolina resident’s Christmas cruise departed from a port in Miami for an eight-day trip around the Caribbean.

Soon after setting sail, the ship was denied entry to some ports because of passengers who tested positive for COVID-19.

“I learned about the outbreak before they announced it,” Peterson said. “When I asked, they wouldn’t confirm that there was COVID on the ship. And they told us the next day when we were denied entry.”

At first, Peterson was shocked because passengers were required to be vaccinated.

“We were all tested,” she said. “Obviously, I knew that was a possibility but it seemed like it was more than a handful of people. And so that’s when I kind of got concerned.”

The cruise ship held around 2,900 passengers and about 1,000 crew members, according to Peterson’s estimate.

“We asked repeatedly … how many people had tested positive for COVID,” she said. “They still won’t tell us.”

Despite being vaccinated and having received a booster shot, Peterson was worried about contracting the virus.

“I’ve tested myself twice since being off the ship just because some of the people that I know that got COVID on the cruise were vaccinated,” she said. “I felt pretty safe … because I’m boosted. But it still was a little bit of a worry that I might catch COVID.”

Peterson said the conditions on the ship were a virtual petri dish with little to no COVID precautions.

“So they didn’t really enforce masks,” she said. “You would go outside your stateroom and they had signs to wear masks, but most people weren’t really following them.”

Except for the casino, “There would just be tons of people, large groups of people, without masks inside,” she said.

“It just seemed like there just wasn’t enough space for people to … spread out,” she said. “I think they probably need to not sail as full.”

In a statement, Carnival Cruise Line says “Carnival Freedom followed all protocols. After a small number on board were isolated due to a positive COVID test. Our protocols anticipate this possibility and we implement and adapt them as necessary to protect the health and safety of our guests and crew.”

“I got all $100 of onboard credit,” Peterson said of compensation the company doled out per room. “And then they gave us a free game of bingo. I wish I was joking, but they did give us a game of bingo.”

Watch the full interview with Ashley Peterson in the video player at the top of the page.

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