If you’re scheduled to take a cruise anytime soon, the U.S. State Department wants you to reconsider your plans.
In the wake of multiple outbreaks of COVID-19 — or the coronavirus — on cruise ships since the virus emerged early this year, the department has issued new cruise recommendations. In a statement that was released on March 8, U.S. citizens are advised to avoid all cruise ship travel, especially if they are elderly or have existing health problems.
“CDC notes increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment,” reads the statement.
Also noted is the fact that many countries around the world are not allowing ships to dock. If passengers do disembark, they may be subject to local quarantine procedures.
“This is a fluid situation,” the State Department wrote, pointing out that older adults and travelers with underlying health issues should always avoid situations that put them at an increased risk for illness. In addition to cruise ships, this portion of the population should also avoid crowded places and other forms of non-essential travel, such as long-haul flights.
The State Department also recommends that those who have already booked cruises check with their respective cruise lines on their cancellation and rescheduling policies. Many cruise ship companies have altered their normal policies in light of the coronavirus outbreak or have canceled or rearranged routes.
There has already been an outbreak of the coronavirus on a Grand Princess cruise ship. There are reportedly 21 people with the virus on that ship, and an elderly passenger has died. As a result, the boat docked in Oakland so that quarantine arrangements could be made for the approximately 3,500 passengers on board.
The lieutenant governor of Hawaii has put in a request to the White House to temporarily ban cruise ships in the state after the Grand Princess outbreak. The ship had stopped at several of the Hawaiian islands before heading toward California.
A highly publicized quarantine of passengers aboard the Diamond Princess off the coast of Japan led to the increased spread of the disease on board until remaining passengers were allowed to leave and be quarantined elsewhere, or approved as healthy.
Additional recommendations by the U.S. State Department can be found here.