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Coronavirus And Your Cruise

Cruises have been hit hard by the Coronavirus outbreak. The thousands of passengers quarantined on board the Diamond Princess in Japan have been in the news a lot, and some cruises have been denied entry to various ports because someone on board was ill. One of the most recent cases was a crew member who had the flu, but port authorities refused to take a chance.

Of course there have also been dozens of cancellations and itinerary changes and there are likely to be more.


What are cruise lines doing?

The International Cruise Ship Industry news website reports that at least 27 cruise ships in and around Asia have cancelled or changed their itineraries so far, and some cruise companies have reported that their shares have “tanked” as a result of the virus.

Now that Coronavirus has spread to places like Tenerife, small towns in Italy, and many other countries, flights and cruises to those areas may also be affected.

If your cruise is cancelled or the itinerary changes, you should be notified by the cruise line and/or your booking agent. Some cruise lines have been refunding cancelled cruises outright, or giving passengers the option to book a different cruise of an equivalent value, or to reschedule for a different date. These options depend on the cruise line’s policy and on the extent of changes to the itinerary.

Some cruises which were set to visit China, Japan and other affected countries are now re-routing to Australasia and the USA, or even to Europe.


Can we still go on our cruises?

Cruise lines are being extra careful and taking all the precautions they can to avoid Coronavirus. It sounds like anyone who is unwell is, on most ships, being told to stay in their cabin as a precaution.

If your cruise is not cancelled, cruise insurance can’t cover a cancellation due to disinclination – i.e. just because you don’t want to go. If you do have health conditions that are of greater concern, you should speak to your booking agent or cruise line and they may offer an alternative. 

If you’re in good health and your cruise is going ahead, your best bet is still taking standard hygiene precautions:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water
  • Use and sanitizer gel if you don’t have access to soap and water
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth before you have washed your hands
  • Don’t spend time with someone who isn’t well
  • If you aren’t feeling well, stay in your room/cabin
  • If you sneeze or cough, use a tissue or your sleeve – don’t cough or sneeze into the palm of your hand
  • Always wash your hands before you eat, and after you’ve been in a public area (even if you aren’t eating)
  • Contact the ship’s medical team immediately if you aren’t feeling well. Whether it’s an upset stomach, a cough or any other illness, don’t go out and spread it around to other passengers.

These precautions are just as important if you’re at home or travelling by plane, train or automobile!


A few more considerations

On a cruise, you may want to stay on board and avoid shore excursions, as the ship won’t have control over the health of locals at those ports.

At this stage, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is not recommending that people avoid travel. They don’t believe this will help stop the virus from spreading, especially as there are now cases where people have contracted the virus in their own communities – not while they were travelling.

Some countries are stopping entry by visitors who have been to places like South Korea, so check if this will affect your plans before or after your cruise. Check entry requirements for your entire route and destination.

Remember that while most people who have contracted Coronavirus so far are recovering, it has been shown to affect the elderly and those with certain pre-existing medical conditions more severely. Ultimately, you need to make the decision that’s best for your health and wellbeing.