The Carnival Magic is a 1,004-foot-long cruise ship that boasts restaurants, a spa, movie theater, sports area, comedy club, water park and now a public relations problem linked to the Ebola crisis. A Dallas health care worker who handled lab specimens from Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan was in voluntary isolation aboard the cruise ship off Mexico Friday morning. The ship is now sailing back to home base in Galveston, Texas, after being refused clearance from Mexican authorities to dock at Cozumel for a scheduled port visit, Carnival Cruise Lines said.
The woman, a lab supervisor at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, continues to show “no symptoms” of the deadly virus and “poses no risk to guests or crew on board,” Carnival said in its statement Friday. Ebola causes symptoms of fever, muscle pain, vomiting and bleeding. An individual can contract the deadly virus by coming in direct contact with contagious body fluid.
In lieu of visiting Cozumel, each guest on the ship is being provided a $200 credit to their shipboard accounts and a 50 percent discount on a future Carnival cruise, the statement said. The Carnival Magic cruise ship can hold up to 3,690 guests and has 1,367 crew aboard.
“We greatly regret that this situation, which was completely beyond our control, precluded the ship from making its scheduled visit to Cozumel and the resulting disappointment it has caused our guests,” the cruise line said in a statement Friday.
Carnival Cruise Lines said it was informed of the situation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday, three days after the ship departed Galveston. The CDC determined the health worker is “very low risk” and could be kept on board in isolation as an “extreme abundance of caution.” It has been 19 days since she was in the lab with Duncan’s testing samples, the cruise company noted in the statement. The maximum incubation period for Ebola is currently 21 days, according to the CDC.
According to Carnival Cruise Lines, none of their ships visit the West African nations hit by the Ebola outbreak, and any passengers or crew who have visited or traveled through Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea within 21 days of a cruise departure will be denied boarding. All guests have to answer health screening questions —and abide to further medical screening, if necessary — prior to being allowed to board.
The ship is expected to return to Galveston on Sunday.