Coronavirus: What Cruisers Need to Know

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As the coronavirus continues to spread, cruise lines are taking extra precautions in order to contain and protect passengers and staff onboard their ships. 

Latest Updates

  • More than 565 people have died due to the virus
  • There are over 28,000 infected people 
  • The virus has spread to over 25 countries and territories 
  • 250 people outside of China have become infected, and two people have died
  • Around 60 million people remain in lockdown in China, three cities have reported over a thousand confirmed cases
  • Over 7,000 people are still in quarantine on two cruise ships docked in Japan and Hong Kong
  • A newborn baby contracted the virus at only 30 hours old
  • 80% of all fatalities in mainland China were over the age of 60

At Cruise1st UK, we believe that whilst it is of the utmost importance to stay vigilant and maintain precaution whilst travelling, the coronavirus poses to put it into perspective, the flu (influenza), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has caused an estimated 19 million illnesses, 180,000 hospitalisations and 10,000 deaths this season alone. 

Of course, the flu has been studied for decades, so although we are aware of the dangers, we know a lot more about the flu than the coronavirus, causing it to feel like a wildcard in terms of how far it will spread and how many deaths it will cause. 

What you need to know about the virus

As this is a new outbreak, there are ongoing investigations to determine more information. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a respiratory virus first detected in Wuhan, China. In the early stages, many patients in Wuhan reported having a link to a large seafood and animal market, which suggests it was an animal-to-person spread. As the virus has spread to people who have not had exposure to animal markets, this indicates that a person-to-person spread is occurring. 

How it spreads

It is believed that spreading of the virus occurs mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes – similar to the spread of influenza. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly inhaled in the lungs. It remains unclear whether touching a surface or object that has been contaminated by the virus and then touching one’s mouth, nose and possibly eyes can spread the illness. 

Typically, most respiratory viruses are thought to be contagious when they are most symptomatic, however, there have been reports that the virus has spread from an infected person who has yet to develop symptoms. 

Symptoms 

Include mild to severe respiratory illness including high fever (above 38°C, or 100.4°F), cough and shortness of breath. Complications that can occur are pneumonia and sepsis or even death. Symptoms can appear in as few as two days, or as long as 14 days after exposure. 

Prevention

Currently, there is no vaccination preventing the infection. It has been advised to avoid exposure and keeping up everyday preventative actions such as: 

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; before eating, after visiting the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing and/or sneezing. 
  • In the event of no soap and water, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay at home if you become sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then dispose of the tissue as quickly as possible.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using regular household cleaning spray or wipes. 

Testing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have developed a new laboratory test kit for use in testing patient specimens for the Coronavirus, called: “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)-PCR Diagnostic Panel.”

It has also been reported that the “CDC’s test kit is intended for use by laboratories designated by CDC as qualified, and in the United States, certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) to perform high complexity tests. The test kits also will be shipped to qualified international laboratories, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Influenza Surveillance Response System (GISRS) laboratories.”

Current Information for Cruise Passengers

The novel Coronavirus also known as the Wuhan Virus is affecting some cruises which call into Hong Kong or using this as a homeport for the time being. Guests who have visited China in the past 15 days (Norwegian Cruise Lines 30 days). Guests who have a Chinese or Hong Kong passport may not be able to board their cruise regardless of where they reside or have travelled from.  All other cruises are running and operating normally.

If you have travelled to China in the past 15-30 days, we suggest you contact your Cruise Line directly. Contact details are on your booking itinerary details.

ABTA Destinations team continue to monitor the situation in Wuhan, China. More info can be found in the ABTA website https://www.abta.com/news/fco-change-advice-china

Cruises departing in the next 7 to 14 days:

For any cruises which depart in the next 7 days from or to any destination, outside of China, these cruises remain unaffected and are operating normally. If your cruise is due to start or call into China or Hong Kong, then please contact your Cruise Line directly. Contact details are on your booking itinerary details.

Cruise Line Statements 

Celebrity Cruises have said: “We are closely monitoring global developments regarding the coronavirus, and we are fully focused on protecting the health and safety of our guests and crew.

Until further notice, all ships in the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. fleet will adopt these health screening protocols:

1. Regardless of nationality, we will deny boarding to any individual who has travelled from, to or through mainland China or Hong Kong in the past 15 days. These guests will receive full refunds.

2. There will be mandatory specialized health screenings performed on:

a. Guests who have been in contact with individuals who have travelled from, to or through mainland China or Hong Kong in the past 15 days;

b.  All holders of China or Hong Kong passports – regardless of when they were last in China or Hong Kong;

c.  Guests who report feeling unwell or demonstrate any flu-like symptoms;

d.  Any guest presenting with fever or low blood oximetry in the specialized health screening will be denied boarding.

3.    These standards also apply to all employees, crew members and contractors of RCL. 

4. We have modified all China and Hong Kong sailings onboard Celebrity Millennium through the end of March.  Guests on modified cruises may opt to receive a 100% Future Cruise Credit.”

For more information on itinerary modifications, please read more here

Costa Cruises have said: “no guests, visitors or crew members of any nationality who have travelled from, to or through mainland China in the last 14 days will be allowed to board Costa ships. 

Measures that the company has already been adopting for the past few weeks include the introduction of a medical form for embarking passengers and pre-boarding health screening, with temperature checks for persons whom, for any reason, appear or identify as symptomatic (respiratory or fever symptoms).

Any reports or detection of symptoms of illness during pre-boarding screening can be managed by medical professionals to allow for informed decisions on a case-by-case basis whether a guest or crew  member will be unable to board. 

All ships in the fleet are equipped with medical facilities with dedicated staff, available 24 hours a day, and can count on advice and support from professionals and external medical facilities. The cruise industry is one of the best equipped and experienced in the field of health protection.”

For more information, please read here.

Royal Caribbean has warned that any guest or crew member, regardless of nationality travelling from, to, or through mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau less than 15 days prior to their sailing will be unable to board any Royal Caribbean ships.

In addition to this, they’ve tightened their health screening requirements and the following guests will need to undergo extra screening to ensure safety at the cruise terminal: 

  • Anyone that has been in contact with individuals that have travelled from, to, or through mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau in the last 15 days.
  • Anyone that holds a Chinese, Hong Kong, or Macau passport – regardless of when they were there last.
  • Anyone that feels unwell or demonstrates flu-like symptoms.

To find out more from Royal Caribbean, please click here

Norweigan Cruise Line will deny boarding to anyone who has visited mainland China in the last 30 days. These guests will receive a refund for their cruise, provided they provide proof of travel in the form of airline tickets or similar. Please note that mainland China does not include Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan.

There has also been an implementation of non-touch temperature screenings for all passengers embarking in Hong Kong. Any guest who registers a body temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius or higher, will not be allowed to board. These guests will be advised to open a travel insurance claim with their insurance provider.

What to do if you are already on board the ship

Passengers onboard the Diamond Princess and World Dream ships have been quarantined in Hong Kong and Japan, standing more than 7,300 passengers. Passengers on board both ships are being given health screenings and those with suspicious symptoms are being tested for the virus. 

As of Wednesday evening (05.02.20), 33 people working onboard the ship have claimed to have developed symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections, three had fevers and were sent to hospital for ‘isolation and management’.

According to Japan’s Health Ministry, 20 people on board the Diamond Princess had been infected; three American’s, two Australian’s, seven Japanese, one from Taiwan, two Canadians, one New Zealander and three Hong Kong citizens. A Filipino crew member has said that the rest of the passengers on board will remain under quarantine for at least 14 days, “as required by the Ministry of Health.” 

Medical officials visited each room to check every guest’s temperature and condition. More passengers than expected needed to be temporarily quarantined while being tested. A US citizen living in Tianjin, China has told CNN that he is “in good spirits” as he is travelling with two other friends. He also said that “The Princess crew has been incredible in their support and communication up to this point. They’re providing complimentary internet to everyone on board to ensure that everyone is able to communicate with family and friends.” 

However, reports have come in that some passengers are beginning to go “stir crazy” as guests have been quarantined in sometimes very small cabins – and inside cabins without windows or natural light. There have been complaints of cramped conditions and poor-quality or inappropriate food. 

Royal Caribbean has also cancelled eight cruises out of China through to early March and will offer full refunds. 

What to do next

If you have concerns about your upcoming trip, please refer to our help page here or contact us the cruise line you are due to travel with directly. 

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About Author

Darcy Alexander

Darcy is a writer and blogger, with a passion for travel. When she's not exploring somewhere new, or writing about her experiences, you'll most likely find her on the field-hockey pitch, or indulging in a good book!

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