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'I did not feel safe': Carnival Cruise overwhelmed with COVID cases, passengers say

Passengers say they had to wait hours for food, weren't properly isolated and couldn't get a hold of medical staff.

SEATTLE — Passengers on a Carnival Cruise Ship that docked Tuesday in Seattle say more than 100 people aboard the ship tested positive for COVID-19, and the ship was overwhelmed.  

Multiple people say right now they're in hotels across the Seattle area to quarantine after testing positive or being exposed to someone with COVID-19. Carnival Cruise Line would not confirm how many people tested positive on the ship but said there were a number of positive cases. 

"As soon as I got diagnosed with COVID, I did not feel safe," said Darren Sieferston, a passenger on the cruise from Miami to Seattle.

Sieferston is in quarantine at a hotel after testing positive for COVID while on the ship. He lives in Nevada. He said he's been on seven cruises since August and said every trip had COVID-19 positive passengers. He feels the response from the crew on this recent Carnival Cruise was chaotic.

"They didn't have enough staff to handle the emergency that was happening, period," said Sieferston. "They were overwhelmed, and they didn't have a backup course in how to handle about 200 people affected with COVID. We all suffered."

Another passenger, Walter Babij of Texas, agreed the crew was unprepared to handle the number of passengers who caught COVID on the ship. 

"I think that they were unprepared. I think they were understaffed. I think that they were overwhelmed," Babij said. "I don't think they had clear guidance as to how to handle this."

Passengers tell KING 5 they waited hours for meals, weren't properly isolated and couldn't get ahold of medical staff. 

"We couldn't call anybody. Basically, we sat in the room, you call and it would ring, ring, ring and ring all day long" said Sieferston.

Sieferston shared a photo with KING 5, which he says was hung outside the elevator of his floor, showing the name and room numbers of people who tested positive. He called it an invasion of privacy.

"It's just unacceptable. This ship is so poorly managed. I'm fearful for the people that are going up to Alaska," said Sieferston. 

The ship de-boarded Tuesday and is already on its next voyage to Alaska. Carnival wouldn't comment if additional protection would be taken for that trip. 

Carnival Cruise Line said the company managed "a number of COVID cases during its 16-day Panama Canal sailing" and there were no serious health issues in a statement to KING 5. The company said most guests were asymptomatic and all health and safety protocols were closely followed, including vaccination requirements and pre-cruise testing for all guests. 

The statement went on to say: 

Our protocols are designed to flex up as needed and additional measures were implemented during the voyage, including mask requirements for guests. 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.  Carnival provided transportation and lodging support for guests who needed to quarantine per CDC guidelines. The ship departed on its next cruise on Tuesday afternoon as scheduled.

We are committed to protecting the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit, including preparing the ship for its next voyage with thorough and effective sanitation measures. 

    

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