Semester at Sea cruise ship suffers COVID-19 outbreak – The Rocky Mountain Collegian


(Graphic illustration by Robbie Haynes | The Collegian)

Austria Cohn, Journalist

The Semester at Sea cruise ship recently experienced an outbreak of COVID-19. As of February 15, 43 people had tested positive, according to Scott MarshallPresident and CEO of Semester at Sea and the Institute for Shipboard Education.

The peak of individuals testing positive for COVID-19 on the Semester at Sea ship occurred on February 15 after visiting Malta.

Students were in Maltawhich is an island country in the Mediterranean Sea, from February 8 to 11

“Anyone who chose to make this trip in the midst of a pandemic knew that we would be tested frequently as required both by maritime regulations and also to enter each country,” said Audra Brickner, vice president of the Advancement and Head of External Affairs. officer for the semester at sea.

No one was seriously ill from COVID-19, but there were people on board who tested positive for influenza A, and they were the sickest, Brickner said.

“We expected this trip to involve COVID,” Brickner said.

The trips of this semester at sea stops include Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, Malta, Spain, Gibraltar, Portugal, France, Scotland, Poland, Sweden and Germany.

Brickner said the number of students tested depends on the rules of the country they are in as well as what the captain and hair medical team require.

On average, students are tested every four to five days, Brickner said.

“For example, when we were in Greece, we had to test a student every time they came back on the ship and went back to the country,” Brickner said. “But each country has its own set of rules about what we do with people who test positive. Whether we keep them on our ship, whether we unload them in their country to stay in hotels, it just depends on each host country.

There is a quarantine section on the ship that has special ventilation where students who test positive must go, unless the country they are in has a different policy, Brickner said.

“If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, they will be administered two PCR tests to confirm the diagnosis,” according to the Semester at Sea website. “Close contacts of the individual will also be tested for symptoms and may be quarantined, depending on each country’s rules and regulations.”

On the ship, there is a COVID-19 coordinator who makes sure each student has what they need, including meals and snacks, while they complete five days in quarantine, Brickner said.

“We also have a system in place on our ship where we can conduct classes virtually in the cabins,” Brickner said. “We can broadcast directly into their cabin.”

“All travelers (students, lifelong learners, faculty, staff and crew) should be fully immunized with a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency or the United States Food and Drug Administration,” according to the Semester at Sea website.

“We worked for students who weren’t eligible for a pre-trip recall,” Brickner said. “We were actually able to give them booster shots during the trip.”

According to Brickner, there are a total of 657 people on the ship, 180 of whom are staff.

“It’s important to us not only to protect the community on the ship, but also not to introduce infection into the places we visit,” Brickner said.

For more information on Semester Sea Trips or COVID-19, visit their website.

Brickner also encouraged people to watch the semester at sea ICT Tac account of their journey.

Join Austria Cohn at or on Twitter @AustriaCohn.


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