Editor’s Note: This article was published on February 17, 2020. Click here for the latest Coronavirus news and cruise updates.
For the most part, cruisers like to read stories about new ships, private island resorts and the latest expedition cruise itineraries. Occasionally however, the industry is faced with a situation which raises misinformed questions among casual observers about the safety and well-being of those on a cruise vacation. For the past month, news out of China regarding Coronavirus, now called COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, has dominated headlines the world over. As cruisers tend to book months, or even years in advance, many are left wondering if their cruise vacations are going to be cancelled or altered due to the latest news.
The cruise industry as a whole has taken swift and decisive action when it comes to the spread of COVID-19 and as a result, the likelihood your cruise to places like the Caribbean, Europe, the Mexican Riviera and elsewhere in the world besides mainland China will be cancelled is very low. The swift action and transparency from cruise lines has been a major factor in limiting the spread of the virus among the hundreds of cruise ships sailing today.
Cruise Lines Act Fast
As public discussion of the illness intensified, major cruise corporations were quick to implement preventative measures aimed at curbing the spread and stopping the virus from reaching their ships all together. Many of the measures taken were born from common sense and basic hygiene, along with implementing a short-term embargo on passengers holding passports from China, Maccau and Hong Kong.
While some cruise lines did not bar passengers from China, Maccau and Hong Kong from boarding entirely, they did implement a restriction for those who had traveled to any of those locations in the past 14 days. Every cruise line also stepped up their ship’s cleaning and disinfecting procedures as well as implementing new health and wellness screening processes for those boarding regardless of the ship’s position in the world.
Cruise lines have also limited guest exposure to communal food areas like lido deck buffets, preferring that crew members taking proper precaution serve passengers rather than the traditional self-service. Encouraging guests to take their own precautions, like regular hand washing, is another focal point echoed across the industry.
Limited Industry-Wide Exposure to Coronavirus
As a result of these preventative measures, the spread of COVID-19 via cruise line has been limited. Diamond Princess, operated by Princess Cruises, is currently under quarantine and the latest news from the cruise line is that passengers testing negative for the virus will soon have the option to disembark and finish their mandatory quarantine period on mainland Japan. Princess Cruises has informed guests on board they are welcome to stay put as well.
Much praise has been given to the crew of Diamond Princess, Captain Stefano Ravera and cruise line President Jan Swartz for their efforts, including daily updates and transparency throughout the ship’s quarantine period. The line has already begun the process of refunding each passenger and offering full credit for a future cruise to those on board. The crew of the Diamond Princess will also receive two months of paid leave once they are allowed to disembark in full health.
CLIA Releases Statement
Cruise Lines International Association, the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, released a statement on February 7th implementing new policies intended to bolster the health and safety of both passengers and crew. The new procedures are found below:
- CLIA Members are to deny boarding to all persons who have traveled from, visited or transited via airports in China, including Hong Kong and Macau, within 14 days before embarkation.
- CLIA Members are to deny boarding to all persons who, within 14 days before embarkation, have had close contact with, or helped care for, anyone suspected or diagnosed as having Coronavirus, or who is currently subject to health monitoring for possible exposure to Novel Coronavirus.
- CLIA Members are to conduct preboarding screening necessary to effectuate these prevention measures. Enhanced screening and initial medical support are to be provided, as needed, to any persons exhibiting symptoms of suspected Novel Coronavirus.
Again, the likelihood your upcoming cruise is going to be cancelled is very low. If you have one booked, make sure you stay up to date with the updates from your cruise line as they may