Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions

Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions title=
Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions
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Cruise ship off the coast of Santa Barbara (Photo: Patti Gutshall)
Update by Santa Barbara County Public Health Department
March 3, 2020

Currently, there are no cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Santa Barbara County. The health risk from COVID-19 to the public remains low at this time. However, with the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. and California, the public has expressed concern in regards to the health and screening of cruise ship passengers disembarking in Santa Barbara Harbor. 

Santa Barbara County officials have been planning and preparing should COVID-19 be identified in the county. The County Public Health Department (PHD) is working closely with its healthcare partners and providing ongoing guidance and alerts in close coordination with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

To address concerns about arriving cruise ships, the PHD has assessed the situation and collaborated with the City of Santa Barbara, Waterfront Department to compile the following frequently asked questions. 

Q. What measures are being taken to ensure the safety of community members when cruise ships arrive in Santa Barbara? 

A. Cruise ships are subject to federal and global regulations as outlined below. When sailing in U.S. waters and calling in U.S. ports, cruise vessels are subject to rules and regulations set by the (CDC), Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and the U.S. Coast Guard. In addition to this, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) sets standards for membership, including medical care and public health. CLIA has recently set cruise ship standards in response to COVID-19 for companies that belong to their organization. This includes denying boarding to passengers who have traveled from countries of concern, as well as increased screening procedures. 

Additionally, a number vessels arriving in the Santa Barbara Harbor meet healthcare standards set by the International Standards Organization (ISO), whose stringent standards focus on a variety topics, including public health and infection control methods. NOTE: travel restrictions and healthcare standards applied for guests are also applied to crew members.

Practices used by cruise ships to prevent the spread of COVID-19: 


Point of Origin: Domestic & Global 

Health screening of passengers and crew prior to boarding cruise ship to Santa Barbara 


Guests and crew prohibited from boarding cruise ship traveling to Santa Barbara if there is a suspect travel history 


Sanitation measures taken during journey 


Reporting of communicable diseases to relevant agencies prior to arrival in Santa Barbara 


Q. What additional screening is done prior to guest and crew disembarking? 

A. Many cruise lines have mechanisms in place to prevent the disembarkation of guests and crew who are being actively monitored for infectious illnesses. Increased screening protocols prior to boarding the vessel reduces the risk of infection onboard. 

Q. Should I wear a mask when cruise passengers are in Santa Barbara? 

A. Masks are not recommended when a cruise ship arrives in Santa Barbara. CDC recommendations state that masks are not an effective method for the public to protect themselves from a respiratory illness such as COVID-19. Public health officials remind the public to stay vigilant and continue to practice routine hygiene methods to prevent the spread of any virus, such as: 

o Frequent hand washing with soap and water 

o Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands 

o Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough with your arm or tissue (discard tissue) 

o Stay home if you are sick 

Q. Could the situation that occurred on the Diamond Princess Cruise ship occur again? 

A. The extraordinary situation that occurred on the Diamond Princess is unlikely to repeat. At the time of the Diamond Princess situation, COVID-19 was fairly new and screening procedures were not fully developed. Since then, many of the cruise lines stopping in Santa Barbara have developed robust screening protocols for crew and guests, increased sanitization procedures, and developed protocols for refusing guest and crew based on their travel history. Additionally, new government restrictions and advisories are in place to help mitigate the risk of spreading the virus. 

Q. How does the City of Santa Barbara handle concerns with COVID-19 and other infectious diseases on cruise ships? 

A. The City relies on direction from the County PHD, CDC, CBP, and USCG with regards to infection control. CBP has jurisdiction and decision-making authority with regards to vessel clearance, quarantine and other requirements. USCG and CBP, with guidance from the CDC, are responsible for tracking cruise ship and cargo vessel arrival. Additionally, they have increased the Notice of Arrival requirements for inbound vessels from 4 days to 14 days. CBP and USCG are actively tracking vessel arrivals based upon crew demographics and recent ports of call and will evaluate every vessel arrival for potential exposure and/or infection. 

Q. What happens if a cruise ship bound for Santa Barbara has someone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms? 

A. In the event a passenger or crew member tests positive for COVID-19, the ship would be diverted to one of three West Coast quarantine stations (San Francisco, Los Angeles or San Diego). The CDC guidelines and response procedures related to cruise ships passengers and crew are posted online at: 

Q. Does the City plan to halt cruise ships coming to Santa Barbara? 

A. As of now, the City has not cancelled any scheduled cruise ship visits, but will continue to monitor the situation and take actions based on recommendations from the PHD, CDC and CBP. The CDC and CBP evaluate each incoming cruise ship and will not allow it to port/disembark in Santa Barbara unless it is deemed safe to do so. To date, no instances of COVID-19 have been identified at the nearby ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach or Hueneme. If there is a concern about any vessel arriving in Southern California ports, the Coast Guard will share all relevant information to appropriate agencies to ensure public health concerns are addressed. 

Q. How many cruise ships port in Santa Barbara per year? Where are most cruise ships from and what routes do they take? 

A. The City typically receives around 30 cruise ships per year scheduled during the spring and fall. The majority of the cruises originate in San Francisco, Los Angeles or San Diego travelling on West Coast routes. The vast majority of passengers are from the United States and Canada. 

Q. What cruise ships are scheduled to port in Santa Barbara? 

A. The cruise ship schedule is posted on the City’s website at

For additional reliable information on COVID-19, please visit the following websites. 


By an edhat reader

Is the City of Santa Barbara taking coronavirus precautions with the cruise ships that are scheduled to dock here?

The current schedule has the next one arriving Wednesday (3/4/20) with another on March 24 and 25th. 

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ljmdance Mar 04, 2020 06:40 AM
Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions

"protocols for refusing guest and crew based on their travel history. " And how is that history obtained? does anyone believe that a passenger is likely to say "oh, I was in Italy last month just before the cases showed up there?"

MyHonorStudentB Mar 05, 2020 08:38 PM
Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions

For one thing, unlike the cruise ships, the campers have not been hit with the virus. Secondly, campers have distance between themselves and open air. Cruise passengers share air space in poorly ventilated space.

a-1583428567 Mar 05, 2020 09:16 AM
Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions

All cruise passenger lists go through immigration screening several days before embarkation and any prior cruise itinerary will be in the system, even if individual Schengen countries are not stamped in anyone's actual passport- the overall travel plan is in the system. . So any restricted country visits will be tracked. E-visas the same way- the passport is electronically checked which reveals the prior travel activity whether physically stamped or not. . Any questions that arise through the passport check, requires the passenger justify or verify their status or else boarding or disembarkation is denied. Again, why are people not concerned about vagrants camps and open land border crossings, and targeting only cruise ships. Most curious. Class envy.

a-1583342579 Mar 04, 2020 09:22 AM
Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions

Passports have stamps in them indicating dates of prior travel destinations. Imagine that. Why does this even rise to a personal threat when you get exposed to flu viruses every day during "flu season" - that period of time in the year when kids bring home germs from school and spread them around randomly.

jqb Mar 04, 2020 11:56 AM
Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions

According the itinerary (, the Grand Princess didn't dock here. It went from SF to Hawaii, and was scheduled to go to Ensenada and back to SF. The coastal cruise is scheduled for March 22, docking in SB on March 24.

a-1583342832 Mar 04, 2020 09:27 AM
Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions

Been a long tims since we have seen the bubonic plague and typhoid fever, but those have been confirmed in the LA vagrant camps. So yes, vagrant camps are getting targeted for spreading diseases that we have not seen a long, long time. It is up to you if you rank corona flu virus over and above exposure to vagrant camp bubonic plague and typhoid.

a-1583275058 Mar 03, 2020 02:37 PM
Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions

Cruise ships isolate sick passengers themselves so they will keep any symptomatic passengers onboard in themselves. . They don't want them infecting other passengers or crew members either. Let alone being let loose Pay attention to how badly the Yokohama "quarantine" was handled and you can rest assured the cruise industry has zero interest or benefit participating in any increased infection risks. or even reputation for increased infection exposures. Keeping in mind, any closed system like day care centers, schools, nursing homes, dormitories, retirement communities and cruise ships can have infection transmission problems from time to time. One more mob hysteria over kill wrongly targeting for reasons yet to be explained. No, those were not "funny baby ruth" bars you saw floating in the ocean, unless they came down from our own creekside vagrant camps. We have people defecating and urinating all over this town, and people want to gang up on cruise ships. C'mon, get a grip and direct your hysteria where it can hit the best targets: the public health and safety risks we keep maintaining in our own community 24/7/365 - the vagrant camps.

biguglystick Mar 04, 2020 11:35 AM
Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions

Your comment has literally ZERO to do with this article. And, yes, Salud Carbajal IS protecting our coast, and I applaud him for it. We NEED to protect our coast from pollution and big oil interests. Were you born and raised here? My guess is no.

a-1583282571 Mar 03, 2020 04:42 PM
Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions

Homesteading on open and undeveloped federal lands has long been an American tradition .Good to bring this concept back if people want to provide for their own food and shelter, but in a proper and legal setting. The good old days, remember? We can do this and solve the issue of unpermitted vagrancy camps. There is plenty of empty federal land. Salud Carbjal should have been working on this .But he didn't. Just the opposite, he is making any use of federal lands virtually impossible. Where is his compassion?

MyHonorStudentB Mar 03, 2020 04:38 PM
Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions

Unsurprisingly, you were heavily downvoted, perhaps because you associate what you call "vagrant camps" with the coronavirus threat. However, the point is well taken as far as it goes. The problem is that efforts to "shut down" campers and pressure them into "cohorts" ie. indoor dormitories of one kind or another would actually make things far, far worse, subjecting them to airborne infection. Open air camps may be tidy or they may be disorganized rubble however they segregate potentially infectious vectors. Either way, the term "vagrant camps" is perjorative and with all the trollery online, more judicious language will go a long way to better dialogue and, who knows, maybe the web-based communications media will allow rational discussion rather than flame wars and reciprocal accusations of "personal attacks". <sigh>

PitMix Mar 03, 2020 01:05 PM
Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions

Stay home, don't go downtown, don't associate with cruise ship passengers. The viruses can stay infectious on hard surfaces for up to 9 days depending on temperature and humidity (hotter temps and less humidity decreases their survivability) so that is how long you need to worry if a sick person has been in a public place.

Bobbyk Mar 04, 2020 11:53 AM
Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions

Researchers in China have found that two different types of the new coronavirus could be causing infections worldwide.
In a preliminary study published Tuesday, scientists at Peking University’s School of Life Sciences and the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai found that a more aggressive type of the new coronavirus had accounted for roughly 70% of analyzed strains, while 30% had been linked to a less aggressive type.

The more aggressive type of virus was found to be prevalent in the early stages of the outbreak in Wuhan — the Chinese city where COVID-19 was first detected late last year.
But the frequency of this type of virus has since decreased from early January.
The researchers said their results indicate the development of new variations of the spike in COVID-19 cases was “likely caused by mutations and natural selection besides recombination.

biguglystick Mar 04, 2020 11:37 AM
Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions

Staying home makes our local businesses hurt even MORE than they already are! This is NOT the answer. Just be practical. Carry disinfectant wipes everywhere with you and hand sanitizer. WASH YOUR HANDS before and after your meal when you support our local restaurants that so badly need it. DO NOT stay home and hide out like a doomsdayer. Santa Barbara doesn't even have a case of it yet. It may come here, but eating out at a local business isn't going to give it to you unless an infected person sneezes directly into your face, even THEN, you may not get it. Get REAL.

a-1583282297 Mar 03, 2020 04:38 PM
Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions

Typically, the viruses last only a few hours. But certain conditions, surfaces and humidity can extend this time. Hard surfaces are not particularly compatible for viral life spans. How many surfaces do you touch during the course of your days - are they under your total control like at home, or are you touching outside the home surfaces .. and then sticking your fingers in your mouth, eyes or nose. Good to pay attention to what in fact we do every day that makes our own actions "disease vectors". Or not.

jqb Mar 03, 2020 04:33 PM
Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions

I copied and pasted those words into google and got , etc.

a-1583266822 Mar 03, 2020 12:20 PM
Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions

No. The city is not taking pre-cautions. How much caution should be afforded? What should it be compared to? Is the city taking pre-cautions against those on board who have the flu? This Corona virus is novel and thus new to our lives. There are many uncertainties that warrant precaution and awareness. However, it opens up conversation to many things (like the flu) that we've all been accustomed to living with regardless of the potential, negative outcomes. The main prerogative now is to start all your prepardedness from yourself and build it outward. Person, family, home, neighborhood, community, city, state, federal. Way Too Much emphasis is being pushed upwards towards policy that fails. This failure is not political. Political is nothing but the argument of this or that. It's simpler in nature. We need to take care of ourselves first. It's why you can have laws about crosswalks (government and policy) but it's also foolish to step into a crosswalk without first looking both ways. Now, more than ever, look both ways. Be prepared from the bottom up.

GeneralTree Mar 03, 2020 10:49 AM
Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions

Why would the city take precautions. As long as the boat isn't coming from a known hot spot. We have people getting off planes at the airport not being screened 24/7. Why would there be special preparations for the cruise ship?

Get over it Mar 03, 2020 08:02 PM
Public Health Responds to Coronavirus and Cruise Ship Questions

Or all of the people who own cars and drive here daily... It's all about the hype and panic. It's the media and some people here that are driving it. Hardware stores don't have dust masks and grocery stores are out of TP. Not because of Covid-19, because of the media and everyone else freaking out.


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