Both the U.S. Department of State and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) are advising U.S. citizens to avoid traveling on cruise ships.
Both announcements are in stark contrast to remarks made Saturday by Vice President Mike Pence, who traveled to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale to tell cruise company CEOs that cruising would continue, but with ramped-up screening and sanitizing protocols to be announced in the coming days.
STATE DEPARTMENT ADVISORY
What the industry-led efforts promised by the Vice President will produce, remains to be seen. Meantime, a post on the State Department’s Travel.state.gov website says:
U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship. CDC notes increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment. In order to curb the spread of COVID-19, many countries have implemented strict screening procedures that have denied port entry rights to ships and prevented passengers from disembarking. In some cases, local authorities have permitted disembarkation but subjected passengers to local quarantine procedures. While the U.S. government has evacuated some cruise ship passengers in recent weeks, repatriation flights should not be relied upon as an option for U.S. citizens under the potential risk of quarantine by local authorities.
This is a fluid situation. CDC notes that older adults and travelers with underlying health issues should avoid situations that put them at increased risk for more severe disease. This entails avoiding crowded places, avoiding non-essential travel such as long plane trips, and especially avoiding embarking on cruise ships. Passengers with plans to travel by cruise ship should contact their cruise line companies directly for further information and continue to monitor the Travel.state.gov website and see the latest information from the CDC:
The CDC published this notice Sunday:
- CDC recommends travelers, particularly those with underlying health issues, defer all cruise ship travel worldwide.
- Sustained community spread of respiratory illness caused by COVID-19 has been reported in many countries.
- Cruise ship passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
- Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues should avoid situations that put them at increased risk for more severe disease. This entails avoiding crowded places, avoiding non-essential travel such as long plane trips, and especially avoiding embarking on cruise ships.
What is the current situation?
CDC typically posts travel health notices for countries and other international destinations, not conveyances, such as ships, airplanes, or trains. Because of the unusual nature of the novel coronavirus outbreak, the US government is advising US travelers, particularly those with underlying health issues, to defer cruise ship travel.
Recent reports of COVID-19 on cruise ships highlight the risk of infection to cruise ship passengers and crew. Like many other viruses, COVID-19 appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships.
Person-to-person spread of COVID-19 is occurring and countries are reporting both travel-related cases and community spread of the disease. As the outbreak of COVID-19 continues, there remains a risk of infected travelers and crew boarding cruise ships.
It has become clear that people with underlying conditions such as heart disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes, and other conditions that cause suppression of immune system particularly among the older adults, are at a high risk of serious disease if infected with the novel coronavirus.
To best protect these vulnerable individuals, we recommend that such individuals avoid situations that increase their risk of acquiring infections. This entails avoiding crowded places, avoiding non-essential travel such as long plane trips, and especially avoiding embarking on cruise ships.