Following growing concern over the coronavirus outbreak, two cruise lines have made the major decision to ban all passengers and crew with Chinese passports from all their cruise ships.
Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line made the decision to ban passengers after four travellers who were on board Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas were hospitalised in New Jersey, experiencing symptoms of the virus.
The passengers had reportedly come from China, boarding the ship at the port of Bayonne in New Jersey, bound for the Bahamas. All four passengers were hospitalised as a precaution.
Passengers and crew with Hong Kong and Macau passports will also fall under the ban.
“The safety, security and well-being of our guests and crew is our number one priority” said NCL in a statement.
“We have proactively implemented several preventative measures outlined below due to growing concerns regarding Coronavirus infections in China.
“We will continue to consult with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and take appropriate additional action as needed.”
Along with Chinese, Hong Kong and Macau passport holders, all passengers and crew who have travelled from, visited or touched down in Chinese airports within 30 days of the start of their cruise will not be allowed to board any of Royal Caribbean or NCL’s ships.
Passengers who are denied boarding will be issued a full refund by the cruise lines.
As of 9 February, coronavirus has reportedly caused 800 deaths worldwide, with infections in China standing at 37,000 and global infections reaching 280 in 20 countries. Like other coronaviruses, this strain has come from animals, and has been linked back to the Huanan seafood wholesale market in the centre of Wuhan, China.
Helping to ensure the safety of its passengers, NCL implemented non-touch temperature screening for all its passengers embarking at the port of Hong Kong (now closed). All guests whose body temperature registered at or above 100.4°F or 38°C were not allowed to board.
Along with the ban, both NCL and Royal Caribbean have made a series of itinerary changes, with Royal Caribbean cancelling eight China sailings on Spectrum of the Seas – currently homeported in China.
Currently, none of NCL’s ships are sailing in mainland China, but all itineraries in the next six months are currently under review.
Those worried about coronavirus should visit the NHS website.