Not surprisingly, I’ve been getting calls over the past few weeks about the coronavirus. It is an issue of concern that we should all take seriously, but not panic over. I am not a doctor and not giving medical advice. After reading many articles by health experts, the cruise line industry, and public health experts, here is my take on coronavirus:
How Does the Coronavirus Affect My Cruise Plans
1) The situation is changing almost daily
This is a new virus and health professionals are still learning about how it spreads, who is most at risk, what treatments are most effective and how to manage the crisis. Health experts from Medicare to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the FDA, are currently recommending that people avoid cruises at least in March and April when they expect the virus to peak in the U.S. I’ve talked with all of our clients who had planned cruises during these two months and encouraged them to consider the higher risk of taking cruises in March and April.
2) Currently limited impact on cruises
There are over 400 cruise ships sailing hundreds of itineraries at any given moment. A tiny fraction of them have had coronavirus outbreaks. Most cruisers are enjoying a fun, relaxing and memorable cruise vacation.
3) Cruise lines are enhancing health protocols
The cruise industry is implementing new health and safety protocols to minimize the risk of catching the virus on a cruise ship. Their enhanced protocols far outweigh those steps being taken at many local stores, restaurants, schools and entertainment venues.
4) Age & health impact
It is becoming clearer that this virus most seriously affects older people and those with underlying health conditions. The younger and healthier you are, the less susceptible you are to it. However, those over 60 and those with significant health problems (respiratory, obesity, diabetes, and cardiac disease) appear to be more at risk and the CDC recommends they not take a cruise at this time.
As I’ve had to think about myself as a person over 60 in good shape and health, I’m comfortable taking my planned vacations and cruises. I don’t have any cruises schedule during March or April, nor would I book one now for March or April. So I am not changing any of my existing trips.
What Should I Do?
1) Talk to your doctor and consider your risk tolerance
If you have concerns on whether you should travel, talk to your doctor. They know your medical history and can give you the best advice. For the overwhelming majority of us, the advice will likely be there is no reason not to travel from May on, but this is a personal decision that only you can make.
2) Cruise line cancellation policies are more flexible
Most of the cruise line industry has temporarily modified their cancellation policies. Many now are allowing guests to cancel trips up to 48 or 72 hours before a trip without penalties for cruises over the next few months. If you are worried or not in good health, look at your cruise line’s policies and postpone your cruise. We are more than happy to discuss this with you.
3) Good deals
As some cancel their plans, it will open an opportunity for others. Cruise lines need to fill ships and will likely offer some very attractive deals over the coming months while offering flexible cancellation policies. I’m continually looking for great deals starting in May and beyond.
4) In good health
If you are in good health, a cruise can be a great way to escape all of this craziness and have a relaxing vacation.
5) Take precautions while onboard
Cover your mouth when coughing and wash your hands regularly and thoroughly. Carry a couple of Purell sanitizing hand-wipes to sanitize any surfaces you’ll be touching. Dine in the main dining rooms and skip the buffets for now.
6) Travel insurance questions
We always recommend travel insurance to our clients. What travel insurance companies will cover is changing almost daily. We recommend talking directly with travel insurance agents to learn what coverage they are offering and how they will handle issues related to coronavirus. Travel agents are not licensed or legally allowed to provide advice on coverage. Nor is it possible for them to keep up with all the changes. If you have questions, talk with agents for the travel insurance company directly. However, if you have a claim, work through your travel agent - they can be a valuable resource when claims arise.
As I mentioned, this is a fluid situation. Keep informed and if you have questions, give me a call or send an email. We will get to the other side of this epidemic and be able to enjoy cruising once again.
I help you make better cruise decisions!
Blog author. Former travel editor for Compete Magazine, awarded top 25 travel writing blog 2018 & 2019..