This Week in Cruise: CDC, FDA Focus on Legionnaires; New Itineraries

Guests who seek both affordability in their cruise travel plans and a longer voyage now have another option. Contemporary Carnival Cruise Line unveiled plans for a 31-day cruise to three continents. That’s a repositioning cruise for the line's Carnival Luminosa. 

Also new on the itinerary front, Holland America Line announced its 2024 Alaska Cruisetours, while Emerald Cruises unveiled its winter 2023-2024 yacht program for the Caribbean

Multigenerational family travel is also gaining strength for the summer. One indication? Alaskan Dream Cruises is bringing back its family cruise this coming July.

CDC and FDA  

Last week, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) sent a letter to guests booked on Norwegian Prima's seven-night cruise from Port Canaveral, FL, which departed this past Sunday, informing passengers that two guests who'd sailed on the ship's November 19, 2022, voyage had been diagnosed with Legionnaires Disease after completing their travels. It's not yet known if the infections—a serious type of pneumonia—were contracted on the ship or elsewhere.  

NCL said it was sending the the letter out of an abundance of caution, that health/safety is a top priority, and that it's fully cooperating with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the agency investigates. Testing of devices that use water, including hot tubs, showers and faucets, is underway.

Cruise ships sailing to U.S. ports are required to have a comprehensive water management program that follows United States Public Health (USPH) guidelines. As part of routine precautions, all ship water systems are regularly tested for Legionella and all water lines sanitized. 

A few other lines have had a few Legionnaires cases surface in past years. For example, three guests were diagnosed with Legionnaires Disease in 2021 after sailing on two American Cruise Lines vessels, American Heritage and American Star. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration American Startested the potable water on board both ships in 2021 and 2022 and found some issues.

In a statement to Travel Agent this past week, the line said: "American Cruise Lines took extensive corrective action to eradicate the bacteria and has modified its water treatment and monitoring plans to prevent it in the future." All potentially affected guests were notified, the line said it appreciated the FDA guidance and will continue "to work in concert with the agency and water quality contractors to maintain the water management plan aboard its ships."

That said, on February 13, 2023, the FDA’s website posted an official “warning” letter sent to American Cruise Lines dated January 24, 2023. In that letter, the agency focused on procedural matters for preventing future infections and issues with its requests for information. It's important to note, however, that there have been no additional cases since 2021. An ACL spokeswoman said: "In regard to the FDA’s recent letter requesting additional information, American Cruise Lines immediately responded with the documentation requested. More importantly, American took the matter very seriously in 2021, and implemented new water management policies and equipment on its ships. We have had no further cases since 2021, nor any others in our company’s history."

First-Hand Look at 360

In a first-hand look today, Travel Agent provides its "intel" on the new, multi-sensory "360 Degree Experience" for suite guests on Discovery Princess and Enchanted Princess. We traveled to the Port of Los Angeles recently to experience the new offering.  

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