As the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to sweep across the United States, one of the hardest hit industries is the travel industry. Specifically, the cruise industry. Cruise ships and coronavirus continue to be a hot topic as travelers continue to sail and cruise ships continue to be quarantined.
In early March 2020, the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning, urging Americans to avoid taking cruises. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) further urged Americans to avoid even smaller cruises or excursions. In the weeks since, many cruise lines have voluntarily suspended cruises from U.S. ports. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) told Conde Nast Traveler,
“We do not take this decision lightly, and we want the traveling public to know in no uncertain terms the commitment of this industry to putting people first. During this time, we will continue to work with the CDC and others to prepare for resumption of sailings when it is appropriate.”
As many cruise lines have suspended departure from U.S. ports, others have suspended global operations. Currently, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Holland America, Norwegian, Viking and others have all suspended travel. So what does that mean for travelers?
The Current Status of Cruise Ships and Coronavirus
Here are a few things you need to know if you were planning a cruise or have a loved one who is on a cruise.
Screening Protocols are Enhanced
As the threat of coronavirus has increased, cruise lines that are part of the CLIA have enhanced their screening protocols. Passengers are being screened for fevers before boarding. Passengers who have flu-like symptoms will be further screened and quarantined until testing can confirm or deny they have coronavirus.
Increased Sanitation Measures
By their nature and design, cruise ships house a lot of people in confined spaces. Also, communal areas on the ship create plenty of opportunities for germs to spread. Cruise lines understand these risks and take measures to clean and sanitize and keep the air filtered. Now, these measures are increasing and sanitation practices are getting an overhaul. Cruise lines are particularly concerned about sanitation measures after the CDC announced that coronavirus was found on a Princess Cruise ship 17 days after passengers had disembarked.
What About Cruise Ships Still at Sea?
One of the primary concerns about cruise ships and coronavirus is how to get ships that are at sea home safely. There were many ships at sea when the coronavirus began to spread. Now, many passengers onboard these ships are infected or have symptoms of the virus. Some ships have been denied entry at ports, causing them to be stranded with hundreds or thousands of people onboard.
Officials are now focusing on getting these cruise ships into port and getting treatment and testing for those onboard. Countries like Spain and Italy have closed their ports entirely. Ships are often being diverted to other countries that are not as affected by the virus.
What About my Financial Investment?
Taking a cruise is an investment. These vacations require a great deal of planning, and you may make reservations months in advance. Reservations often require a deposit or full payment, which means that travelers make their investment long before they actually board the ship. There are also additional expenses, such as travel insurance, which contribute to the total cost of the investment.
Unfortunately, many people have had their reservations cancelled due to the coronavirus. Many travelers are concerned about their investment and the fact that they are not able to utilize the reservation that they have paid for. In response, most cruise lines now have a flexible cancellation policy, which helps reimburse travelers or reschedule their reservation. Travel insurance companies are also offering a “cancel for any reason” policy, which covers up to 75 percent of travel expenses if you cancel due to a cruise ship illness, including the coronavirus.
Have Questions about Cruise Ships and Coronavirus?
If you have questions or concerns about cruise ships and coronavirus, your best source of information is the CDC. Their COVID-19 and Cruise Ship Travel page offers up-to-date information about travel warnings and what the CDC is doing to support the cruise industry.
Of course, here at Maritime Injury Guide, we will continue to provide information to our readers as soon as possible. If you have questions about a cruise ship illness or injury, or another maritime injury matter, don’t hesitate to contact us. We offer a free injury consultation, so you have nothing to lose. To find out more, call us at 1-866-871-8422, or complete our online contact form.