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President Trump is the single most protected person in the United States by any measure. He lives 24/7 surrounded by layers of security and teams of people whose only mission in life is to protect his well-being.

Much of President Trump’s famous bravado for his own personal safety vis-a-vis COVID-19 has always been rooted in his certainty not that the virus isn’t deadly – he’s on record saying that he knows it is – but his certainty that those around him were tested, scrutinized and deemed “safe” to be in his presence.

As we learned this morning though, the layers of security that cocoon the President weren’t enough to protect him and the First Lady from becoming infected. Now we wait and pray they recover quickly.

The question is this. If even the President of the United States can become infected with the virus, what hope does someone boarding a cruise ship have when the standards of virus protection onboard are not up to a “presidential level”?

New health protocols
The cruise industry is working hard to implement measures that will make it safe for their ships to sail again soon. They’re also lobbying the government to allow them to resume operations. But without a vaccine to this deadly virus, their safety measures will never be enough. Mistakes will be made, people will get sick and some will die. One day soon cruise ships will need to be put under quarantine again as they were at the beginning of this year. We see this playing out now in Europe as cruise lines try to resume sailing with stiffer safety controls only to see outbreaks occur anyway.

When will cruise ships set sail out of American ports again? It’s a moving target. The CDC just extended its No Sail order until October 31st. Carnival Cruise announced yesterday that it has cancelled cruises from all U.S. homeports except Miami and Port Canaveral for November and December 2020.

Without a vaccine, the only certainty is that cruising will resume again sometime before it should.

The question the government, cruise industry, its passengers and the ports that are home to cruise ships need to ask themselves is what happens when the inevitable virus outbreak happens on a ship again one day soon?

Is it fair for passengers to expect medical help from the government when they board a cruise ship if they get caught up in an outbreak? Who pays for it if they do? The cruise line? The taxpayer?

Which front-line workers are responsible for helping stricken passengers on a cruise ship, possibly risking their own lives in the process when the inevitable outbreak occurs?

Cruising is the new smoking and raises similar questions of personal responsibility when dealing with dangerous behaviours and preventable risks.

Not everyone who smokes will get cancer but the risk is there. Not everyone who boards a cruise ship one day soon will get COVID-19, but the risk is there.