The Coronavirus Cruiser Survival Guide

JUST IN (March 14 2010):

Major cruise lines suspending operations at US ports for 30 days over coronavirus pandemic

More than 50 cruise lines are suspending operations to and from US ports for 30 days due to the “unprecedented situation” of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a cruise line trade association.The suspension begins at midnight, according to a statement from the Cruise Lines International Association. CLIA represents most of the major cruise lines, including Disney, Carnival, Princess, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean.This follows earlier announcements, but affects all major lines, including Princess Cruises and cruise ship operator Viking. Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line announced suspensions in operations Friday.Norwegian Cruise Line President and CEO Harry Somer said his cruise line planned to resume cruises beginning April 12.

CNN

What really is the CoronaVirus, the COVID-19?

Coronaviruses fall into a family of viruses that can cause illnesses which range from the common cold to something more severe such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and the Middle East respiratory syndrome. They are divided into four groups called genera: alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. All of these viruses originally came from animals, and then, later on, were transmitted to people. SARS, in this instance, was transferred from civet cats to people. On the other hand, MERS originated from camels and then was transmitted to humans. Many coronaviruses have not yet been transmitted from animals to humans. 

The name Coronavirus distinctly comes from Latin (Corona), which translates to crown. If it is looked from an electron microscope, the shape of the virus takes that of a solar corona. It became viral around January 7th, and it was first acknowledged by the Chinese authorities. Since then, it is called COVID-19, and it is a new battle for people all over the world. There is evidence that it spreads from a person to another, and that well-kept hygiene can prevent infection. The virus spreads when you have close contact with an infectious person, contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze, touching objects or surfaces (like doorknobs or tables) that have a cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth or face.

What are the symptoms?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), signs are shown in the portrayal of coughs, fever, shortness of breath, and severe breathing difficulties. In milder cases, it may even include pneumonia, multiple organ failure, and severe cases of death. Many patients also have “aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea”, suggested by WHO.

The time of the incubation for the virus is between infection and the first showing of the symptoms – around 14 days. The majority of the people affected show symptoms in a period of 5 to 6 days. Most of the cases right affected by the coronavirus (COVID – 19) reside in Wuhan City in Hubei Province, China. The Chinese authorities produced data that shows 80 per cent of total cases are rather mild, and the rest 20 per cent are the ones that require hospitalisation.

On the other hand, many patients do not show symptoms even though they have the virus in their systems. There are many measures being taken, which take effect right away, since Matt Hancock himself, the British Health Secretary, suggested that such a spread of a virus is “serious” to the public.

What is being done to stop it from spreading?

Scientists all over the world are doing their best to study it more thoroughly and find a cure. The American Chemical Society (ACS), up to date one of the biggest scientific societies, cancelled their meetings to prevent the spread of the virus. On the other hand, European scientists are already ahead with studies, and on a benevolent road towards finding the cure. 

Moreover, a patient diagnosed with COVID-19 is being treated at the University of Michigan Health System and is currently in a very stable condition. Simultaneously, they are studying it and giving in all forces possible to know it better and find preventives, as well as the cure.

“Our job is to work with technical health experts to package knowledge using adult learning principles, quickly so that it is most useful to health workers and staff,” suggested Heini Utunen, who is the manager at OpenWHO for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme (WHE).

The World Health Organization has been investing in courses, learning, and training people for an actual qualitative response to emergencies that regard health. The speed of your recovery if infected depends upon your immune system. 

Latest Cruise related Corona stories

The outbreak of the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has affected the cruise industry. Nine cruise ships namely Diamond Princess, World Dream, Anthem of Seas, Westerdam, and Costa Smeralda have been quarantined until further notice. Many major airlines have also stopped operating on certain routes and are reducing change fees for passengers. (Lufthansa cut about 50 percent of its flights, while US airlines have made more modest adjustments.) Amtrak, meanwhile, has seen its bookings fall 50 percent and cancellations shoot up 300 percent.

Cruise Operators have started to change the routes of the ships as countries integrate restrictions within their systems in order to prevent the spread of the disease. There are many ports where the Cruise Ships do not stop at all. The majority of the functioning Cruise lines have also banned boarding to any person who has travelled from, to or through China, Hong Kong, Macau, Italy, or South Korea 15 days prior to embarkation.

All cruises are conducting an additional pre-boarding screening of all individuals that are from Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, or Thailand within 14 days of the start of the cruise. Additionally, all cruises are embarking a 20-day additional screening policy for passengers who are from or have visited the above-mentioned countries. Moreover, heightened precautions have now been imposed in numerous ports of call, including Singapore, India and New Zealand.

They provide medical screening for COVID-19 on all people who visit the onboard Medical Centers with symptoms of respiratory difficulties or signs of fever. So on, all cases of fever and respiratory illnesses, and any passengers suspected with COVID-19 will be reported to local health authorities.

On-board stories regarding CoronaVirus

Some cruise lines have stopped global operations in total. Princess Cruises halted its 18 cruise ships for a period of two months due to the two passengers on board who were diagnosed with the CoronaVirus. “We recognize that travellers are faced with a great deal of uncertainty right now, and we are committed to helping them through this situation,” Scott Nisbet, Globus president and CEO said in a statement. The cruise added an extra statement, “The President's objective is for us to make cruise lines safer, even as we work with the cruise lines to ensure that — that no one in our particularly vulnerable population is — is going out on a cruise in the near future.”

The other cruise line, namely Viking announced a delay of its trip until August 7th.“The current global health crisis is understandably making many people rethink upcoming travel plans,” said Virgin Voyages’ company statement. The outbreak has clearly impacted the cruise industry, however, every industry in the world has been influenced economically. Hence, it’s no surprise, and it was more than expected.

The Saga travelling company that organises cruises said: “The health and safety of customers and colleagues is our number one priority. We have, therefore, made the decision to temporarily suspend operations of our cruises until 1 May 2020. Our customer service teams will be in contact with cruise customers who were due to travel in the next six weeks to offer them either a full refund or a credit for a future departure.” They continued: “There is a range of further mitigating actions the group will take, including additional cost efficiencies and reducing discretionary spend.”

“The health and safety of customers and colleagues is our number one priority. We have, therefore, made the decision to temporarily suspend operations of our cruises until 1 May 2020. Our customer service teams will be in contact with cruise customers who were due to travel in the next six weeks to offer them either a full refund or a credit for a future departure.” they added.

Saga travelling company

Commenting further on the delay of cruises, “It is our intention to reassure our loyal guests, team members and global stakeholders of our commitment to the health, safety and well-being of all who sail with us, as well as those who do business with us, and the countries and communities we visit around the world,” Jan Swartz president of Princess Cruises, added in a press release.

Princess Cruises said that it will suspend operations within the next five days. It will, however, continue to sail through the end of its ships' current itineraries so that passengers' travel arrangements are not disrupted. Current voyages that are underway and extend beyond March 17 will end at what the company determines to be the most convenient location for guests to disembark. “Never in [our] 55 years, and certainly not in the 20 years I have served in this company, have we been tested in the ways we have been tested over the past 40 days,” Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz said in a 7-minute video posted to YouTube. Swartz called the suspension “perhaps the most difficult decision in our history.”

What can I do if I already booked a cruise?

There is no need to panic if you have already booked a cruise. As a reminder, there is a high chance that the CoronaVirus outbreak will perish by then, and if not, many Cruise Lines have great refunding policies. Lines such as Princess Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line and Viking offer new rebooking policies. “I think there’s an extremely low risk of getting novel coronavirus on a cruise ship,” said Dr. John Lynch, who has specialities in infectious disease and travel medicine at University of Washington School of Medicine. 

Dr. John Lynch

There also many cruise lines that now offer full credit if you have booked a cruise already through this spring, and passengers can decide when to reschedule. Whatever amount of money you have paid, you can use for trips in the future. Some of these cruise lines’ policies suggest you book the future trip in 12 months after cancellation, and others in a period of 24 months.

Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic said that: ”A number of cruise lines have recently rolled out temporary adjustments to their cancellation policies, allowing for penalty-free adjustments to bookings closer to the sail date, providing travellers with even greater flexibility,” she suggested. On the other hand, “not all lines are extending this offer, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the cancellation policy of your cruise line of choice.” 

Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic

“For cruise vacations — that are often booked many months in advance — these adjustments are a way for cruisers to feel a bit more confident in their investment, knowing they have some additional levels of protection if needed,” she continued. Cruise Lines are continually monitoring and assessing the impact of the latest developments and health advisories, as well as various travel and entry restrictions which are increasingly impacting cruise ship itineraries and connecting travel. They are actively seeking to mitigate these risks to passengers and crew and are making appropriate adjustments to certain operations to protect all onboard ships.

Which cruises have these offers?

If you have booked a trip on Disney Cruises, which is set to sail now and May 31st, you can change your reservation up to one day before embarkation. You will receive a 100% cruise refund that can be used within 12 months from May 31st. This is an amazing offer, and it shows the seriousness that Cruise lines are tackling the virus with. 

Carnival Cruise Lines, on the other hand, allows you to reschedule your trip up to 3 days before sailing. Princess Cruises also changed their cancellation policies, and it varies according to the date it sails. Royal Caribbean allows you to cancel any cruise which departs on or before July 31st, up to two days ahead of cruising. Then, you can use the refund money for any cruise of this Line which embarks in 2020 or 2021.

Viking is also offering a great allocation of refunds if you made your booking before March 2nd and if you have made any reservations through April 30th. You can change your cruise date as well as cancel your cruise at any time before a day of embarkation. Then, you can get a refund and use the credit in the next 2 years.

Policies keep changing and they vary according to the cruise line, so make sure you constantly check their updates and see the flow of information. Most Cruise Lines are handling the recent spread of the CoronaVirus in an amazing and careful way, hence there is no need for any overreaction of sorts.It’s unclear what effect the novel coronavirus outbreak has had on cruise ship bookings, but some people have been drawn to lowered ticket prices, according to recent reports. “We definitely heard a lot of criticism for going on” a cruise, one cruise ship passenger told some sources this week. “But we decided if we sanitize, it will be fine.”

How should I prepare if I have decided to go on that cruise?

The best thing about cruise vacations is that you are taken away the responsibility of many unpleasant technicalities. You will not have to prepare much, specifically when it comes to international travel. Once you start packing your bags for the cruise, it is crucial to bring over all your necessary travel documents. That should be done accordingly, and it varies upon the country you are planning to visit. 

Certain countries have put into place additional restrictions for port entry and passenger disembarkation. These often include denying entry to certain passport holders or requiring additional medical documentation or screenings. Guests with certain passports and who are on voyages impacted by port restrictions will be notified prior to sailing. Cruise Lines offer different perspectives upon this, and again it’s important to check ahead with which cruise you’re about to embark on. 

You also have the option to carry your bags onboard or check it right before you sail. If up to date you are feeling healthy and well, there is no need for you to wear a mask of the sorts since there’s little evidence that it prevents transmission in public. To practice, good hygiene is a must during this time. 

Good hygiene includes the practices such as washing your hands often with soap and water, using tissue and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, avoiding close contact with other people such as touching. Do not share snacks from packets or bowls that others are dipping their fingers into! Moreover, don’t forget to clean all of your tech equipment. Your hands transmit all germs to your smartphone and keyboard and headphones. So make sure you clean them!

Make sure you make an appointment with your doctor before sailing and have everything sorted out health-wise. Take all nutritious supplements with you, such as vitamins that could aid you in the long run. 

Now back to your trip, Do not OVERPACK! We all make the mistake of overestimating baggage we need to take with us, and then regret taking so much stuff with us later on. Take all the necessary luggage, but leave the extra things at home, they will be waiting for you there! You can avoid all this fuss by making a list of items you deem absolutely necessary to take with you. 

It’s always important to take cash with you because you never know. Some countries still have not loaded the idea of paying with a card fully. Cash can always come in handy, and you can never go wrong there. Most importantly, anticipate some extra costs that can go along on board. Some cruises may not be all-inclusive, so beverages, spa treatments, laundry – can ultimately add up in the end.

What should I do if I'm currently on a cruise?

What else is there to do except enjoy yourself to the fullest! Being on a cruise is the epitome of fun. There are countless activities you can indulge in and simultaneously spend your days on the lovely sunshine and crispy sea air. The many activities include rock climbing walls, broadway shows, dancing clubs, go-karting areas, surfing simulations, bars with all fathomable amenities. The list is literally endless. Cruises are the perfect getaway for those who are bored by mundane routines life has at stake. The sea, the activities in the ship, and the feeling of floating in the water can be ideal for those who like adding a bit of spice into their lives.

As long as you wash your hands frequently, cover your nose and mouth when coughing, and avoid close contact with people, you will be fine. Not only will you be fine, but you will also enjoy your cruise to the fullest, you will be fine. Not only will you be fine, but you will also enjoy your cruise to the fullest by pushing these negative thoughts at the back of your mind. Christ Gray Faust, the managing editor of Cruise Critic, an online cruise community and review site said: “I don’t see any reason not to go”. On the meantime, listen to public health experts who can help us navigate the path ahead. Take sensible steps that can help us all: get your bearings, practice good hygiene, use calming strategies that work for you — and maybe try something new.

The chances of you running into a person identified with the virus on the cruise are low. The only people that should be a little more careful are the ones in the health industry right now, so kudos to all the brave doctors and nurses out there for the work they do.

I will keep updating this guide as new information becomes available. Please do stay tuned.

Dan.

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