US warns citizens about cruise travel, cancellation policies in effect
The US State Department is warning its citizens to avoid travel on cruise ships, even as cruise lines are implementing policies to allow passengers to defer their travel plans.
In a travel advisory, the State Department says US citizens particular those 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,” the advisory says.
The State Dept advises that repatriation flights should not be relied upon as an option for US citizens under the potential risk of quarantine by local authorities.
“This is a fluid situation. CDC notes that older adults and travellers 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.”
The US advisory comes as cases of the coronavirus have been recorded on some cruise lines and many ports in the Caribbean and around the world are refusing to dock ships for fears of contagion.
To that end, some cruise lines have implemented policies to allow for the cancellation of bookings.
Princess Cruise Line
Princess Cruise Line, which experienced a coronavirus outbreak on its Diamond Cruise ship, says to assist guests' decisions regarding their upcoming cruise vacations during the evolving worldwide COVID-19 situation, they are temporarily making some changes to their cancellation policy for cruises and cruise tours departing between March 6 and May 31, 2020, and final payment terms for cruises and cruise tours sailing in June 2020.
Guests that have already cancelled a March 6-May 31, 2020 cruise or cruise tour on or after January 20, 2020, will automatically receive Future Cruise Credit (FCC) for 100 percent of cancellation fees.
Future Cruise Credits (FCC) are non-refundable and non-transferrable. They may be applied to any new or existing booking not yet paid in full on a Princess cruise or cruise tour departing on or before December 31, 2021. The FCC does not have to be used on the same itinerary that was cancelled.
Guests who choose to keep their booking on cruises or cruise tours as currently scheduled for departures between March 6, 2020 and May 31, 2020 will automatically receive the following Onboard Credit amounts:
- $100 USD / $150 AUD per stateroom for 3 and 4-day cruises
- $150 USD / $225 AUD per stateroom for 5-day cruises
- $200 USD / $300 AUD per stateroom for 6 days and longer cruises
Royal Caribbean’s "Cruise With Confidence" policy allows guests on Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea to cancel up to 48 hours before sailing. Guests will receive full credit for their fare, usable on any future sailing of the guest's choice in 2020 or 2021. The policy applies to both new and existing cruise bookings.
The policy applies to all cruises with a sailing date on or before July 31, 2020, and will be offered by the company's global brands.
Cruise Association Advisory to Cruise Lines
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the leading voice of the global cruise industry, has advised the cruise lines of the adoption of additional enhanced screening measures in response to COVID-19.
As a result of these changes, which are effective immediately, CLIA members are to:
- Deny boarding to all persons who have travelled from, visited or transited via airports in South Korea, Iran, China, including Hong Kong and Macau, and any municipality in Italy subject to lockdown (quarantine) measures by the Italian Government, as designated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, within 14 days prior to embarkation.
- Conduct illness screening for all persons who have travelled from, visited or transited via airports in any destinations listed on the US CDC “Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel” page within 14 days before embarkation. Illness screening includes symptom history checks for fever, cough and difficulty breathing in the 14 days before embarkation and taking of temperature.
- Conduct temperature screening, as soon as they are capable, at initial embarkation for all persons boarding. Any individual with a temperature detected at or above 100.4° F / 38° C is to receive secondary screening to include a medical assessment.
- Deny boarding to all persons who, within 14 days prior to embarkation, have had contact with, or helped care for, anyone suspected or diagnosed as having COVID-19, or who are currently subject to health monitoring for possible exposure to COVID-19.
- Conduct pre-boarding screening necessary to effectuate these prevention measures. Enhanced screening and initial medical support are to be provided, as needed, to any persons exhibiting symptoms of suspected COVID-19.