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US Government warns public against going on cruise ships due to Coronavirus

08 Mar 2020
Matt Hochberg

The United States State Department issued a travel warning to US citizens against going on a cruise ship because of Coronavirus fears.

The "fluid situation" prompted the warning on Sunday evening and noted an, "increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment" by the CDC.

The State Department emphasized this warning is particularly important to travelers with underlying health conditions, who may be more susceptible to the effects of COVID-19.

Moreover, the State Department cited recent issues with some passengers being subject to local quarantines, as well as the issue of some countries implementing strict screening procedures that have denied port entry rights to ships and prevented passengers from disembarking.

The full warning is as follows:

U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship.  CDC notes increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment. In order to curb the spread of COVID-19, many countries have implemented strict screening procedures that have denied port entry rights to ships and prevented passengers from disembarking.  In some cases, local authorities have permitted disembarkation but subjected passengers to local quarantine procedures.  While the U.S. government has evacuated some cruise ship passengers in recent weeks, repatriation flights should not be relied upon as an option for U.S. citizens under the potential risk of quarantine by local authorities.  

This is a fluid situation.  CDC notes that older adults and travelers with underlying health issues should avoid situations that put them at increased risk for more severe disease.  This entails avoiding crowded places, avoiding non-essential travel such as long plane trips, and especially avoiding embarking on cruise ships.  Passengers with plans to travel by cruise ship should contact their cruise line companies directly for further information and continue to monitor the website and see the latest information from the CDC: 

This new warning is one in a series of events that have dominated the cruise industry over the last few weeks. The worldwide spread of coronavirus has prompted Royal Caribbean to allow cancellations up to 48 hours before sailing, as well as implement mandatory temperature screenings to the cruise check-in procedure.

Royal Caribbean has also taken additional steps onboard its ships and in the cruise terminals to stem the spread of Coronavirus by thoroughly sanitizing the cruise ship terminal before and after every sailing. They have also added extra medical staff on each sailing, special sanitizing of high traffic areas onboard the ship, and  complimentary consultations with medical experts for all guests & crew.

The warning comes on the heels of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard Fain speaking last week on the issue, and reminding the public that the current situation is far from ideal, but will eventually get better again.

"We're all spending time worrying, and that's natural, because we're in a storm, and when you're in the middle of a storm, it certainly feels like it'll never end. But as with most storms, it gets worse before it gets better, but it's hard to remember that this too shall pass."

Will this warning affect your decision to cruise? Let us know in our comments!

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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