Royal Caribbean normally encourages cruise-goers to drop off their luggage, hop on the ship and run off to enjoy their vacations. That’s all changed since the coronavirus outbreak.
Spooked by the deadly disease, cruise companies around the world are imposing extraordinary measures to curb its spread, from taking passengers’ temperature before boarding to denying entry to people who’ve recently visited China. Those fears were on full display in the past two weeks, with at least three cruises being quarantined after some passengers showed symptoms.
As of Friday morning, the coronavirus had killed 638 people, mostly in China. There were 31,479 confirmed cases around the world, with over 31,100 in China alone.
More than 30 million people are expected to take a cruise this year, according to Cruise Lines International Association. If you’re one of them, here’s what you can expect.
You’ll be turned away if you’ve been to China recently
Miami-based Royal Caribbean (RCL) is turning away passengers and crew members who’ve been to mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau in the 15 days before their trip, according to a statement on the firm’s website.
Swiss company MSC Cruises is denying boarding to passengers who’ve been to mainland China in the past 30 days, according to a February 4 statement on its website. All guests have to fill out a questionnaire before boarding.
Carnival Corporation (CCL) took similar steps, banning passengers who’ve been to China, Hong Kong or Macau in the previous 14 days.
Meanwhile, Norwegian Cruise Lines barred guests and crew who’ve been to China, Hong Kong and Macau 30 days before their cruise trip, a spokesperson said Wednesday. The cruiseliner will refund passengers who show proof of travel.
Royal Caribbean is performing undefined “extra screenings” of anyone with a Chinese, Hong Kong or Macau passport regardless of when they last visited those regions. People who’ve come in contact with someone who has been to those areas in the past 15 days, as well as anyone with flu-like symptoms, will also be subject to the tighter checks.
MSC Cruises is checking everyone’s temperature prior to boarding. Anyone that displays symptoms — including a fever, chills, a cough or difficulty breathing — can’t get on.
Norwegian is also screening all passengers and doing extra checks on people who appear to be sick. Anyone with symptoms of a respiratory illness might be quarantined and potentially disembarked, the spokesperson added.
You might be quarantined
Last week, 7,000 passengers on a Carnival-owned Costa Cruises ship were held aboard in Italy after a passenger showed symptoms. On Wednesday, a cruise from the company’s Diamond Princess line was anchored near Tokyo with 1,045 crew and 2,666 passengers for the same reason, and on Friday it was confirmed that 11 Americans aboard had tested positive for the coronavirus.
You can’t go to China
Royal Caribbean canceled eight China sailings through March 4 on its Spectrum of the Seas ship, the cruiseliner’s only vessel homeported in the country, a spokesperson said Wednesday. The company will give passengers full refunds.
Norwegian has changed some itineraries and isn’t sailing to mainland China. Trips stopping in the country over the next six months are under review.
A Carnival spokesperson said the company canceled trips out of China on its Costa line through February, and it called off the next sailing of the Diamond Princess, which according to its website sails to and from Hong Kong.