- Travis Shields says he tested positive for COVID-19 during an eight-day Celebrity Cruise sailing.
- He relocated to the ship’s quarantine floor where he says he spent the next three days in isolation.
- Shields documented his experience on TikTok, where the videos have over 1.7 million views.
On December 27, Travis Shields boarded his very first cruise aboard Celebrity Cruises’ Apex ship.
The eight-day Caribbean journey required all passengers to be vaccinated and have a negative COVID-19 test within two days of departure.
But midway through, after experiencing symptoms, Shields said he tested positive for COVID-19 and was moved to the ship’s quarantine floor where he spent the rest of his vacation in isolation.
Shields documented the positive result and its aftermath on his TikTok account, @squatchout, with videos that have over 1.7 million views collectively.
Insider spoke to Shields to hear more about what it was like. Representatives for Celebrity Cruises did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
On day 6 of the cruise, Shields tested positive for COVID-19
On December 30, Shields told Insider that his girlfriend’s mom started feeling sick and tested positive for COVID-19.
She was moved to the cruise’s quarantine floor, he said, and the rest of Shield’s group also took tests, which all came back negative. They were instructed to quarantine for 24 hours in their room (which also happened to be on New Year’s Eve, “which totally sucked,” according to Shields).
After 24 hours, everyone in the group tested again and Shields tested positive.
What it’s like to quarantine on a cruise: isolation and medicine delivered to your door
After testing positive, Shields told Insider that cruise workers arrived at his door to transport him to the quarantine floor where he’d spend the last three days of the cruise. In one of Shields’ TikTok videos, workers appeared to don masks, face shields, gloves, and hazmat suits, and walked behind Shields while pushing his luggage and spraying disinfectant in the air behind him.
According to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Shields would have to quarantine for a minimum of five days.
He said he was told by the cruise line that after the ship disembarked at the end of the trip in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, he’d be transported to a hotel to finish out his quarantine free of charge, as part of Celebrity’s health and safety policy. The policy states “If you test positive for COVID-19 during the cruise, Celebrity Cruises will cover the cost of COVID-19 related medical treatment onboard, any required land-based quarantine, and homebound travel for you and your Traveling Party.”
The fine print does add that these costs are covered for guests who have fully complied with all Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean Group COVID-19 policies and procedures in effect at the time of voyage with additional terms and conditions that may apply.
Shields said the next three days in quarantine on the cruise dragged on. He could order room service from the ship’s restaurants, but said it often took more than two hours to arrive and by then it was cold.
The Wi-Fi connection was spotty, Shields also said, so he relied on a book and TV for entertainment. He “watched a couple of indie movies that I couldn’t even tell you the name of because they were so bad” and texted his family, who were enjoying the rest of their vacation on the ship, he said.
“It took a lot of patience not to get frustrated,” he told Insider. “You can see Cozumel through the window, but you can’t go to Cozumel. You can see The Bahamas; can’t go to The Bahamas.”
Each day, a doctor called Shields to see how he was feeling. When Shields started feeling sick, Tylenol, cough medicine, and other medicine arrived at his door, he said.
By the time the cruise was over, Shields said he was itching to leave the cabin, which he described as “COVID jail” in his first TikTok video about the experience.
The cruise disembarked in Florida, where Shields continued to quarantine
Shields said he waited for all the passengers on Celebrity’s Apex ship to disembark, after which, once again, hazmat-clad workers arrived at his door and instructed him to leave through a separate exit.
When he got off the ship in Fort Lauderdale, his teary-eyed girlfriend and family were waiting for him.
“It was pretty emotional,” he said. “It was only three days, but it felt like forever.”
There was also a car waiting to transport him to a hotel, he said, which was booked through Celebrity Cruises where he thought he would finish the remainder of quarantine.
The hotel wasn’t up to his standards, he said, so Shields and his girlfriend’s mother, who was also finishing her quarantine, decided to rent an Airbnb.
Shields told Insider that Celebrity Cruises’ aforementioned policy was to help him rebook flights home, “but they just disappeared,” he said referring to the cruise company. So Shields said he booked his own flight back to Portland, Oregon.
Shields said he was told that he would be reimbursed for both the flight and Airbnb costs, in accordance with the policy, but has yet to submit his receipts.
Throughout the entire process, Shields said he was shocked by the lack of communication and that no one verified that he finished his quarantine.
“There was no structure to it,” he said. “It was like once you get to Florida, you’re on your own.”
Shields said he will likely go on another cruise — once he feels it’s safer
“I’ll probably still go on a cruise again,” he said. Next time, though, he plans to wait until there isn’t a surge in COVID-19 cases.
For other travelers considering a cruise, Shields said don’t go.
“I would stay home until Omicron is over or at least mostly gone,” he said. “I would not go out.”