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Friday,  April 12, 2024 8:29 PM 

As coronavirus cases climb, cruise lines tighten boarding requirements

  • Cruises
  •   02-06-2020  11:30 am
  •   Christine Hogg & Blake Wolfe

As coronavirus cases climb, cruise lines tighten boarding requirements
Christine Hogg & Blake Wolfe

As more cases of novel coronavirus are identified around the world, a number of cruise lines have implemented a series of strict screening policies, and are exercising their right to deny boarding to any passenger deemed unfit to travel.

Ten additional cases of coronavirus – including two Canadians – were found yesterday (Feb. 5) by Japanese health officials while screening guests and crew of the Diamond Princess, which has been quarantined just off the shore of Japan since earlier this week.

READ MORE: WHO declares coronavirus a global public health emergency

According to reports, the 10 latest cases are in addition to 10 passengers who were found to be infected earlier in the week. 

The 3,700-person cruise has 251 Canadian passengers on board.

Passengers under quarantine

The 20 passengers have been taken ashore to a hospital in Yokohama. The ship and its passengers and crew are expected to remain quarantined for the next two weeks; subsequently, Princess has cancelled the ship’s next two sailings, which were to depart Yokohama on Feb. 4 and Feb. 12.

According to a statement by Princess, the ship plans to go out to sea to perform normal marine operations including, but not limited to, the production of fresh water and ballast operations before proceeding alongside in Yokohama where food, provisions and other supplies will be brought on board.

Guests will continue to be provided complimentary internet and telephone to use in order to stay in contact with their family and loved ones and the ship’s crew is working to keep all guests comfortable, Princess said.

According to Princess, on the ship’s previous voyage, a guest from Hong Kong embarked in Yokohama on Jan. 20, sailed one segment of the itinerary, and disembarked in Hong Kong on Jan. 25. He visited a local Hong Kong hospital, six days after leaving the ship, where he later tested positive for coronavirus on Feb. 1. 

While on the ship, he did not visit the ship’s medical centre to report any symptoms or illness. The hospital reports that he is in stable condition and the family members traveling with him remain symptom-free.

How cruise lines are protecting passengers

A number of cruise lines around the world have enacted enhanced screening measures in light of the coronavirus outbreak, and have issued notices to travellers on what to do, should they be denied boarding. The following cruise lines have shared these updates:


All booked guests who have travelled to/from or through China, Hong Kong and Macau in the 14 days prior to their departure will not be allowed to sail. 

Hong Kong and Macau are not currently subject to a Level 3 CDC travel health alert

However, an increasing number of countries and local health officials are restricting or denying entry to persons that have travelled from or through these two locations in the last 14 days (including transiting through an airport), particularly if they have symptoms of respiratory illness. 

Therefore, Carnival is adopting this same standard and are contacting booked guests ahead of their departure to alert them.

The company has also implemented procedures at its homeports.


Freedom of the Seas

After consultation with CDC, WHO and other public health authorities, Royal Caribbean is implementing several measures to protect guests and crew.

Until further notice, all ships in the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. fleet will adopt the following health screening protocols:

  • Regardless of nationality, Royal Caribbean will deny boarding to any individual who has travelled from, to or through mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau in the past 15 days.
  • Regardless of nationality, Royal Caribbean will deny boarding to any individual that has come in contact with anyone that has travelled from, to or through mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau in the past 15 days. The CDC characterizes contact with an individual as coming within a six feet (two metres) of a person.

There will also be mandatory specialized health screenings performed on:

  • All holders of China, Hong Kong and Macau passports, regardless of country of residency and when they were last in China, Hong Kong or Macau.
  • Guests who are uncertain about contact with individuals who have traveled from, to or through mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau in the past 15 days
  • Guests who report feeling unwell or demonstrate any flu-like symptoms
  • Any guest presenting with fever or low blood oximetry in the specialized health screening will be denied boarding.

All guests that are denied boarding due to these restrictions will receive full refunds.

"We have cancelled eight China sailings through March 4, on Spectrum of the Seas, our only ship currently homeported in China, and guests will receive full refunds for these cancellations," Jonathon Fishman, manager, corporate reputation, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., told PAX.

"We have rigorous medical protocols in place to help passengers and crew members who feel unwell while sailing. Our protocols include professional medical treatment; quarantine of unwell individuals from the general ship population; and intensified ship cleaning, air filtration, and sanitization procedures."


Norwegian Bliss

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has proactively implemented several preventative measures outlined below due to growing concerns regarding coronavirus infections in China. 

Guests who have travelled from, visited or transited via airports in China, including Hong Kong and Macau, within 30 days of their voyage embarkation, regardless of nationality, will not be allowed to board any of NCL's vessels. 

The standard incubation period recognized by the WHO and US CDC for this virus is 14 days.

Guests who are denied boarding will be issued a refund when they provide proof of travel.

The recent Hong Kong port closure will result in itinerary modifications and NCL will share the revised itinerary as well as further details as they become available. Prior to the port closure in Hong Kong, NCL implemented non-touch temperature screenings for all passengers embarking from this destination and any guest who registered a body temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius or higher, were not allowed to board.

Guests on these voyages were also subject to temperature screenings when returning from shore excursions at ports of call.

Guests who were unable to sail due to a high temperature were advised to open a travel insurance claim with their insurance provider.

For all guests, NCL will continue standard pre-boarding health reporting and evaluation. Any guests who appear symptomatic are subject to pre-boarding medical evaluations including but not limited to temperature checks as deemed necessary.

Any guest who exhibits symptoms of any respiratory illness while on board will be subject to additional screening at NCL's onboard medical centre and may be subject to potential quarantine and disembarkation.

NCL has also implemented additional cleaning and disinfection protocols on board all voyages. 

Crew members who have travelled from, visited or transited via airports in China, including Hong Kong and Macau within 30 days will not be allowed on board NCL's ships.

Singapore and the Philippines are not currently allowing Chinese nationals to disembark at their ports. Guests with a Chinese passport who are travelling on voyages that disembark in one of these regions will not be allowed on board NCL's ships. Guests who are denied boarding due to this will be issued a refund.

NCL has made a number of itinerary changes and none of its vessels are currently calling to ports in mainland China. The company says it also has the flexibility to alter itineraries as needed to avoid areas of concern. All itineraries that call in mainland China for the next six months are currently under review.


In light of the coronavirus outbreak in ChinaMSC Cruises is immediately taking further precautionary measures for the health and well-being of its guests and crew on all of its global fleet.

No cases of coronavirus have been reported aboard any of MSC Cruises ships.

As of Jan. 24, all guests who wish to board must adhere to the following:

  • Guests from all nationalities are required to fill out a pre-embarkation questionnaire to ensure no one boards their ship who has travelled from mainland China or visited mainland China in the past 30 days. Anyone who has travelled from mainland China or visited mainland China in the past 30 days will be denied access to the ship;
  • Mandatory non-touch thermal scans conducted for all guests and crew prior to embarkation for every cruise operated by the company anywhere in the world, and persons with signs or symptoms of illness such as fever (≥38 C°/100.4 F°) or feverishness, chills, cough or difficulty breathing will be denied embarkation;
  • Elevated deep-sanitation on every ship in the line’s entire fleet;
  • Guests who may have fever symptoms will be isolated in their cabin and the same measure applies for their close contacts, including guests staying in the same cabin and family members, as well as any crew member who may have served these guests.

For the latest updates on the status of coronavirus in Canada, click here

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