The U.S. State Dept. has issued an updated travel warning for American citizens considering travel by cruise ship.
Because of the Coronavirus, cruise ship companies have changed their cancellation policies and are being more generous with refunds.
So have airlines and hotel companies.
“U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship,” the State Department posted to its website on Sunday, March 8.
Here is the full State Dept. Cruise Travel advisory:
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: https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/cruise/index.html.
The State Department website has a list of embassy websites for additional Covid-19 information.
Cruise Lines Loosen Cancellation Policies
Cruise lines are allowing passengers fearful of a Coronavirus outbreak to cancel their voyage without paying penalty fees, and offering onboard credits of $100 or more for passengers who don’t cancel.
Be aware – Cancellation does not mean refund. In most cases, it means a credit for a future cruise.
Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea will let travelers cancel up to 48 hours before they are set to sail and receive full credit for cruises later this year or in 2021.
Royal Caribbean has named the new policy Cruise With Confidence, and has a new website with all the intel.
The policy applies to new and existing cruise reservations on cruises set to sail on or before July 31, 2020.
The three cruise lines are owned by parent company Royal Caribbean Group.
Luxury brand Oceania Cruises also is giving passengers a full future cruise credit if they cancel up to 48 hours for sailings through Sept. 30. New bookings made by April 30 make the same promise.
Princess Cruises, which has had two ships affected by the novel Coronavirus, also loosened its rules about penalty fees on cancellations.
Passengers set to leave by April 3 on a Princess cruise may cancel 72 hours before sailing and receive credit for a future cruise without penalties.
Those set to sail between April 4 and May 31 who cancel by March 31 also will receive the credit.
Holland America is allowing passengers to cancel 72 hours before sailing on cruises and Alaska land journeys through May 31.
Passengers will receive full credit for future cruises this year and in 2021 – but those cruises must be rebooked by Dec. 31.
Princess and Holland America are rewarding travelers who keep their reservations and sail now through May 31 with on-board credits.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter is a journalist with 20+ years of experience as a newspaper and magazine writer, radio & TV news producer & reporter, and guidebook and smartphone app author – all focusing on travel, automotive, the environment and your rights as a consumer.
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