In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak (now named COVID-19), many Australians are wondering whether it's safe to embark on a cruise holiday.
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) - which represents around 90 per cent of global capacity has ensured travellers that cruise lines are well-equipped to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak.
In response to the outbreak, the CLIA has cancelled all cruises to affected areas.
However, the majority of cruises outside of North Asia are operating as normal and are more than safe to travel. For instance, cruises to destinations such as Australia, New Zealand, North America, The Caribbean and Mediterranean are still running their normal itineraries. And there are a huge range of cruise deals to be found.
It's important to remember that cruise lines have extensive experience in monitoring the health of passengers.
"CLIA members implement outbreak prevention and response measures and their ships must be fitted with medical facilities, shipboard and shore side medical professionals available around the clock, 24/7, to provide initial medical care in the event of illness and prevent disease transmission," CLIA said in a statement.
Cruise lines are working hard to minimize the risk of illness by introducing new protocols and pre-boarding health screenings. Ships are turning away any passengers or crew members who have visited China (including Hong Kong and Macau) within 14 days of embarkation.
They are also denying access to all persons who have had close contact with anyone suspected or diagnosed with COVID-19.
Additionally, cruise lines will also conduct pre-boarding health screenings such as non-touch temperature checks. Any passengers showing symptoms of COVID-19, including coughing, sneezing or a fever will be denied access.
The World Health Organisation has released the following COVID-19 prevention advice:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol based hand santisier for at least 20 seconds
- Maintain social distancing (at least 1 metre) from anyone who is coughing/sneezing
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Practice respiratory hygiene (e.g. covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow when coughing or sneezing)
- If you develop a fever, cough or have difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical attention
- Stay informed and follow the advice from public health authorities
For those passengers embarking on a cruise, it is also recommended to:
- Get yourself a pre-cruise checkup e.g. visit your local doctor
- Practice good hygiene onboard
- Stay hydrated
- Get plenty of rest
- Avoid touching communal surfaces such as tables and railings
As the global health crisis continues to unfold, many travellers are concerned that their pre-booked cruises will be cancelled.
And while many cruises have been cancelled in areas affected by COVID-19 such as Asia, the vast majority of cruises in other parts of the world are operating as normal.
Cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises are changing their itineraries and relocating ships to Australian and South Pacific waters.
As the circumstances change and developments occur, cruise lines will be modifying their policies, procedures and itineraries accordingly.
For passengers wanting up to date information about their pre-booked cruise, contact your travel agent or individual cruise line directly.
The CLIA has advised travellers to consult their travel insurer before cancelling their cruise
"Prior to cancelling a cruise, travellers should always consult with their travel insurer and review the specific cancellation terms and conditions of the cruise line. If the cruise is operating, then in most cases the traveller would not be entitled to a refund. If the cruise has been impacted by a specific travel advisory, then travellers are encouraged to consult with individual cruise lines with regard to cancellation policies," CLIA said in a statement.
If you have any questions or concerns about your upcoming cruise, our friendly travel consultants are here to help. Contact us on 1300 883 887 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Information correct at time of publication