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Passenger Dies On Cruise Prompting Vaccine Mandate For Passengers


After an elderly woman fell ill and died of COVID-19 aboard a cruise ship, the cruise lines are imposing stricter protocols for passengers. This includes being fully vaccinated unless you have a medical exemption or are under the age of 12. The move hopes to strengthen safety protocols aboard vessels where contagion outbreaks are the norm and stave off further CDC intervention.

The change came two weeks after a 77-year-old woman fell ill with COVID before dying in a Tusla hospital. The cruise line is unlikely to face a lawsuit over this death as it is difficult to determine and prove where the infection occurred. In this case the cruise line has said that the woman was symptomatic before she boarded the cruise and failed to disclose that fact to the ship, indicating she did not become infected while on the ship.  The health authority in charge of the investigation agreed with the cruise line’s assertions.


The death of the woman was the conclusion of a story that began with 26 crew members falling ill with COVID-19. The cruise line disclosed the outbreak to Belize authorities. Some of these crew members had broken protocol during shore leave. However, the woman is still believed to have been infected with the virus before she came aboard the vessel. Of the 26 crew members who were infected, none had serious symptoms. Several reported no symptoms at all and some very mild symptoms. All crew members would have been vaccinated. It is unknown if the woman who died was vaccinated.

The cruise lines are now under strict orders to ensure that 95% of all crew and passengers are vaccinated.

A legal mess 

Right now, the CDC has allowed cruise lines to resume cruising provided they comply with its requirements for vaccination and pre boarding testing. Meanwhile, the same cruise lines are dealing with legislation passed at the state level that prevents them from requiring “vaccine passports” as a condition to boarding. Federal law requires that cruise lines be in substantial compliance with CDC recommendations. But several states have passed laws which interfere with CDC requirements by preventing businesses from imposing rules regarding COVID-19 testing and/or vaccination.

Here in Florida, similar anti-regulation laws were enacted to prevent vaccine passports and more. Norwegian Cruise Line actually sued the state of Florida to lift the ban on vaccine passports, stating that they would not sail from Florida ports if the Florida law remained in force. Norwegian Cruise Line won a temporary injunction against the State of Florida allowing them to comply with the CDC mandate of pre-boarding testing and proof of vaccination.

It is a shame that politicians have used this issue to drive a wedge between us and put all our heath at risk.

Talk to a Miami Cruise Ship Injury Attorney

If you’ve suffered an injury aboard a cruise ship or are an injured crew member, call Miami admiralty & maritime lawyer Michael F. Guilford today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.



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Michael F. Guilford, P.A.

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