Houston - Carnival Cruise Lines confirms a passenger on a cruise that left Galveston in late July has died from COVID-19, despite the cruise line's vaccination requirements. And as COVID cases surge, more people are canceling or changing travel plans this fall.
We talked with a couple, the mother and step-father of FOX 26 photojournalist Darlene Janek Faires, about their experience on that Carnival Cruise Ship.
Tom and Beverly Taylor were passengers on the Vista, which Carnival reported 26 crew members and a passenger tested positive for COVID-19 in Belize, despite 99.98% percent of the crew and 96% of passengers being vaccinated. The Chronical and a GoFundMe page report 77-year-old Marilyn Tackett, also vaccinated, later died back in Oklahoma.
"They found out they had all these people, 26, 27 that had the virus. Almost all crew members. Then we had to wear masks anywhere we were inside," said Beverly Taylor.
The Taylors say they developed symptoms hours after returning home in Galveston. Beverly says they were then tested again, she was positive, Tom was negative.
"It wasn’t real bad, but it was a cough. We didn’t have any fever because we had the vaccine," said Beverly.
"A little cold," added Tom.
Travel agents, like Diana Wong at Travel Leaders in Pearland, say the COVID-19 surge around the world is causing some travelers to change plans.
"I have gotten some that are canceling. Right now, it’s kind of slowed down a little bit," said Wong.
Summer Hull with The Points Guy says many airlines and hotels are still waiving change fees, if you do it in advance.
"Most airlines have not gone back to a more Draconian $200 change fee for most types of airfares. The caveat is some airlines are charging a fee for those who booked the basic economy type of ticket," said Hull.
"It kind of just depends on when they’re canceling. A lot of times it’s before the final payment if it’s about 45 days to two months ahead," said Wong.
If you’re planning a trip, Hull suggests choosing booking options with free cancellation, paying with a credit card with travel protections, or buying certain types of travel insurance.
"They will increasingly include if you are sick, if you are quarantined, or someone in your immediate family is. And some of the premium credit cards have coverages in that realm as well," said Hull.
The Taylors say they are booked on another cruise in November.
"It’s already paid for. We would maybe make a different choice if they get to the point where they say you can change your mind," they said.
Carnival Cruise Lines has issued a statement saying Tackett "almost certainly did not contract COVID on our ship." The cruise line says it has since increased safety protocols, such as masking indoors, requiring vaccinated travelers to show proof of vaccination, and a negative COVID test at check-in, and unvaccinated must be tested twice before boarding.
We reached out to Carnival about the Taylor's. A spokesperson says they're looking into it and will get back to us.