Carnival Announces COVID-19 Safety Changes on Same Day Vista Passengers Test Positive

Carnival Vista continues voyage despite positive cases of COVID-19 onboard

carnival vista departs galveston
Frank Heinz, NBC 5 News

Carnival Cruise Lines began enforcing a mask mandate early on a cruise out of Galveston after several passengers tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday.

Carnival announced Wednesday they were changing masking guidelines for all voyages in the interest of public health beginning Aug. 7 where all guests will be asked to wear masks in certain indoor areas of the ship. The company said they would also be modifying its COVID-19 testing requirements for all voyages beginning Aug. 14.

The company made the announcement the same day passengers on a trip out of Galveston were notified there were people onboard infected with the coronavirus.

An NBC 5 viewer reached out Wednesday night and said she was sailing on the Carnival Vista from Galveston to Belize and that they were late leaving because of medical issues related to people who had been infected with COVID-19.

Carnival confirmed to NBC 5 Thursday morning they implemented the new mask policy early on Vista due to a small number of positive COVID-19 cases onboard.

"Our pre-established protocols of vaccinated guests and crew, testing, enhanced medical capabilities and contact tracing anticipated the potential for positive cases, and they are designed to adapt to various scenarios," Carnival said in a statement to NBC 5.

The cruise line said they had identified and tested close contacts of those who were positive and anyone who tested positive was moved to an isolated area on the ship.

"The decision to implement the mask policy was made in an abundance of caution, given our focus on the health and safety of our guests and crew. The voyage will continue as planned and we are dedicated to continuing to provide our guests with a fun and safe vacation," Carnival said.

In a statement on their website, Carnival said should a "threshold" of COVID-19 be detected onboard, "the voyage will be ended, the ship returned to the port of embarkation," and "subsequent travel or return home may be restricted or delayed" for passengers.

Carnival did not specify the threshold need before a trip would be canceled.

Later this month, on Aug. 14, Carnival will require all fully vaccinated guests to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) taken within three days of their trip. Testing at the cruise terminal will not be available and guests are required to arrive with their negative test result and proof of vaccination before boarding.

Guests who are unvaccinated, Carnival said, must still submit to pre-cruise PCR testing, testing prior to boarding, and testing within 24 hours of leaving on cruises of five days or longer and must pay a $150 charge for testing and health screening costs.

For cruises departing from Florida and Texas, unvaccinated guests are also required to show proof of insurance.

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