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Carnival Vista Passenger Dies of COVID-19 After Voyage

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Carnival Vista (Carnival file image)

Published Aug 24, 2021 2:11 PM by The Maritime Executive

A female passenger who tested positive for COVID-19 during a recent sailing of the Carnival Vista has died of the disease, Carnival Cruise Line confirmed in a statement Tuesday. 

The family of the victim has identified her as Marilyn Tackett, 77. The line said that she was treated aboard the vessel by onboard medical staff, then evacuated to a hospital in Belize, where she would have access to a ventilator. On August 6, her family launched a GoFundMe page to cover the $30,000 cost of a medical repatriation flight to bring her back to the United States, as her insurance would not cover the expense. The effort was successful, and she was flown back to Oklahoma for treatment. In an update August 15, her family reported that Tackett had unfortunately passed away. 

In a statement, Carnival told media that Tackett "almost certainly" did not catch COVID-19 on board the ship. At the time of the voyage, Carnival was not requiring pre-boarding COVID testing for vaccinated passengers, and she was the only passenger who fell ill. 26 crewmembers of Carnival Vista also contracted COVID-19 during the same time period, and all (including Tackett) were vaccinated prior to getting under way.

“We have continued to provide support to her family and are not going to add to their sadness by commenting further,” Carnival said in a statement. “Unfortunately, no venue on land or at sea is COVID-free right now, but we are committed to protecting the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit and have not hesitated to act quickly and go beyond existing public health guidelines."

Since the Carnival Vista outbreak, Carnival has implemented several new requirements to reduce the odds of COVID-19 transmission on board. These include pre-boarding testing for all passengers; masking requirements for some crowded public spaces indoors; and (effective August 28) a full vaccination requirement for all passengers over the age of 12. Previously, Carnival allowed a small number of non-vaccinated passengers to board, so long as they complied with additional testing requirements and paid an additional fee. 

The new 100-percent vaccination requirement is a response to a new vaccine mandate for cruise ships entering the Bahamas, effective September 3. 

“The requirements for cruise ships to enter ports outside the U.S. continue to evolve, and Carnival Cruise Line must operate in full compliance with these regulations,” well-known Carnival brand ambassador John Heald said in a social media update. "We believe these will be will temporary measures and apologize for any disruption caused to our guests."