How safe is it to cruise with the Coronavirus?


While the whole cruise industry is now caught mist of the Coronavirus. What should you be doing to protect your family when you cruise? How safe is it to cruise with the Coronavirus and how are the industry handling the Covid-19 virus?

Is the cruise industry under threat and are you at risk? How can you protect yourself while cruising?

Corona virus what cruisers need to know and the impact on the cruise industry 

The Coronavirus outbreak that has left one ship quarantined in Asia and cruise ships being turned away in ports worldwide. Passengers are now worrying about whether it is safe to cruise or if they need to change their current cruise plans. As of mid February over 400 people on board the Diamond Princess have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus ( Covid-19). These passengers were confined to cabins in the Japanese port of Yokohama.

Princess Cruises put in place restrictions and precautions immediately. In addition to the implementation of stringent cleaning and sanitation protocols with recommendations by the Japanese government.

Royal Princess cruise ship for families How safe is it to cruise with the Coronavirus
Image courtesy of Princess Cruises
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What are cruise lines doing about it?

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) represents 90% of cruise operators. CLIA has announced precautionary measures following the Coronavirus outbreak that should be implemented by its members. This is the CLIA announcement as follows;

“CLIA Members are to deny boarding to all persons who have traveled from, visited or transited via airports in China, including Hong Kong and Macau, within 14 days before embarkation

CLIA Members are to deny boarding to all persons who, within 14 days before embarkation, have had close contact with, or helped care for, anyone suspected or diagnosed as having COVID-19, or who is currently subject to health monitoring for possible exposure to COVID-19

All CLIA Members are to 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.

Clia Cruise health and safety  coronavirus on a cruise ship

Can I cancel my cruise?

Many cruise lines have canceled or altered scheduled sailings to China and in and around Asia as coronavirus continues to spread but what can you do if you want to change or cancel your cruise?

Can I cancel my cruised to Coronavirus? If the Foreign Office (FO) warns against travel to an area most travel insurers will pay out check your insurance. Some cruise lines are changing policies or routes to fit with recommendations. However you will have to check your terms and conditions of your cruise line as you will not be entitled to a full refund.

Cruise Ship Cancellation Policies

Find out what you can do about your booked upcoming cruise due to the effects of the Corona virus here.

Princess Cruises temporarily revises cancellation policy

Princess Cruises is temporarily changing its cancellation policy for cruises and cruise tours departing up to May 31, 2020. The line is implementing a revised policy to assist guests making decisions regarding their cruise holidays during the evolving worldwide COVID-19 situation. The details vary by departure date: 

April 3 or earlier: You can cancel up to 72 hrs before sailing to receive a Future Cruise Credit (FCC) for 100% of cancellation fees 

April 4 – May 31: Cancel by March 31, 2020 and receive receive a FCC for 100% of cancellation fees 

For cruises from June 1 – June 30, the final final payment moves to 60 days prior to sailing instead of 90 days 

Guests that choose to keep their booking for departures between March 9 and May 31 will now receive complimentary onboard spending money;

  • $100 per cabin for 3-day and 4-day cruises
  • $150 per cabin for 5-day cruises
  • $200 per cabin for 6-day and longer cruises

MSC Cruise cancellation policies

MSC are offering people to change their cruise in march or April for one up to 12 months later in the year due to coronavirus fears. See their Coronavirus protocol here

Carnival Cruise Coronavirus Cancellation Policy

Carnival have updated their cruise ship policy temporally due to Coronavirus fears.

The cruise line will provide several options for those who want to reschedule their voyage due to health concerns. Guests who booked prior to March 6, 2020, and are scheduled to set sail between now and May 31 can move their booking to a new date. Those who are to depart in the month of March will be allowed to reschedule within three days of the sail date, while those who are set to sail starting April 1 must change their booking by March 31. Any guests who choose to still set sail between now and May 31 will receive between $100 to $200 in onboard credit for keeping their reservation.

See carnivals Coronavirus Screening policies here

Should I cancel my cruise to China?

All cruises to and from mainland China have already been canceled by cruise lines worldwide. Many Cruise lines have rescheduled itineraries from that area of the world until further notice. If you have a cruise to or from China coming up soon contact your cruise line for more information.

How will Coronavirus affect my upcoming cruise?

If you are planning to cruise soon it would be wise to check with your cruise line. Check on their specific protocols that have been put in place. There are many government restrictions in place and cruise lines have altered their protocols to take in to account; safety of boarding ships to comply with passenger and crew safety, and safety of passengers and crew whilst onboard. Policies vary but many cruise lines are denying boarding to individuals who have traveled; to, from or through mainland China, Hong Kong, China, and Macau, China. As well as restrictions on individuals who have been in close contact with persons who have traveled; from, through or to mainland China, Hong Kong, China, and Macau, China. All restrictions for people travelling are now applied if you have come in to contact in the past 15 days. 

If you are cruising the typical pre-cruise health form on embarkation may now accompany more tests. Such as a mandatory specialised health screening test performed when you board. If you arrive in port and have a fever or represent a temperature you will have your temperature checked. Also if you are showing signs of respiratory illness, you might be denied boarding. 

Clia Cruise health and safety  coronavirus on a cruise ship

How equipped are cruise ships to deal with pandemics?

The cruise industry is one of the most well equipped travel industries. When it comes to managing and monitoring health conditions of those onboard. It is widely known that people showing signs of illness could get confined to a cabin. However cruise lines have extensive ship cleaning, air filtration, and sanitisation procedures. Ships also conduct good cleanliness and hygiene all year round. Ships are used to managing outbreaks of viruses onboard.

Cruise lines already have rigorous medical protocols in place to help passengers and crew members who feel unwell while sailing. These protocols include professional medical treatment and quarantine of unwell individuals from the public areas of the ship.

One thing is for certain; in the aftermath that follows the quarantine of Royal Princess many new lessons will be learned.

What happens if you are ill on a cruise ship?

If you fall ill on a cruise ship the medical team will assess you. You will be checked and cared for. If you contract a virus you will most likely be kept in the confinements of your cabin. Ships have extensive medical facilities onboard and access to medical help in ports of call.

Cruise ship cleanliness

Cruise ships are well renowned for their spotless facilities onboard and infinite number of hand cleaning facilities. You will never be far from a hand gel sanitiser or wash basin and sink.

Cabins are cleaned daily as well as all public areas cleaned meticulously even when virus is not present.

Clia Cruise health and safety  coronavirus on a cruise ship

Tips for staying healthy onboard cruise ships in the shadow of Coronavirus

  • Wash hand frequently ( before and after eating and after touching ship surfaces)
  • Carry your own hand sanitiser
  • Use antibacterial wipes in cabins
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  • Drink bottled water
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Choose healthy options in the restaurants such as green vegetables
  • Take vitamin supplements such as Vitamin C
  • Notify a member of staff if you feel unwell
  • Encourage children to use good hygiene and hand washing

Further reading and government advice on cruise with the Coronavirus

Clia Cruise health and safety coronavirus on a cruise ship


  • Donna Vallance

    Donna loves cruising with her husband and two teenage boys. Having cruised with the children from a young age she feels it is the perfect way to experience the world safely. Her boys are social butterfly’s and love meeting other children their own age whilst onboard some of the most extraordinary floating ships. She also writes over at Like Love Do, a travel memoir of her trips, from London to far off beaches. She has an eye for the unusual and like to go off of the beaten track just to find the perfect photo. With a passion for photography and exploring cruising has become the perfect holiday choice.

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