NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The Norwegian cruise ship that docked in New Orleans on Sunday had at least 17 passengers and crew who tested positive for COVID-19.

The Louisiana Department of Health said one of those crew members probably had the Omicron variant but did not leave the ship.

Susan Hassig, a professor in epidemiology with Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine says she’s not at all surprised to hear about the multiple cases of COVID on-board the Norwegian “Breakaway” cruise ship, despite a vaccine requirement.

“It is a lot of people in an itty bitty space. Hallways are narrow. Cabins are small. I think the unfortunate reality even though they required vaccinations for crew members and passengers. It is really apparent that vaccinated individuals can become infected,” she said.

She says we can’t rely on vaccines alone.

“The vaccine is like the airbag in your car, but you still put on your seat belt. I see the vaccine as an airbag and the seatbelt as a mask,” Hassig said.

Hassig went on to say that indoor spaces create more danger for the virus to spread.

“Indoor spaces particularly I think we need to wear masks more than we are,” she said.

She recommends that if you booked cruise ship travel during the holidays that you need to be more careful.

“I think they need to make sure that the cruise ship is verifying full vaccination and I would wear masks in indoor spaces,” she said.

And whether you’re cruising on a ship or not, Hassig still feels we can’t stop protecting ourselves and others.

“Wherever it is, this virus has proven that it can get to us if we are not vigilant,” Hassig said.