BALTIMORE (WJZ/CNN) — Got a cruise planned out of Port of Baltimore? Well, you may want to rethink it if you have an underlying condition.
On Sunday, a U.S Department of the State tweet warned against Americans traveling via cruise ship.READ MORE: Health Officials Urge Vaccination & Boosters As COVID-19 Rate Rises, Omicron Arrives In Maryland
“U.S. citizens, especially with underlying conditions, should not travel by cruise ship. CDC notes increased risk of COVID19 on cruises,” the state department tweeted.
U.S. citizens, especially with underlying conditions, should not travel by cruise ship. #CDC notes increased risk of #COVID19 on cruises. Many countries have implemented screening procedures, denied port entry rights to ships and prevented disembarking. https://t.co/jh93gZTkpC pic.twitter.com/jI6S0UceVg
— Travel – State Dept (@TravelGov) March 8, 2020
“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,” their statement continued.
At Port of Baltimore, several cruise companies, including Royal Caribbean, have added mandatory screenings for passengers prior to boarding and have also said they will deny boarding to those who have traveled to certain countries or show signs of cold and flu.
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A couple of weeks ago one Royal Caribbean cruise ship had 82 passengers sick with the flu aboard before they disembarked in Baltimore.
In Maryland, five people have tested positive for coronavirus. All five people contracted the virus while traveling abroad, of the sick, contracted the illness while they were on a cruise.
Although you may normally not get a refund if you don’t have insurance, now some cruiselines have changed their policies: Princess Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line and Viking are offering travelers new flexible rebooking policies.READ MORE: Maryland Has Three Confirmed Cases Of The Omicron Variant Of COVID-19, Hogan Says
They’re among several major cruise lines now offering full credit for any cruises booked from now through this spring that wary travelers decide to reschedule. The credit can be used for future trips. For some cruise lines, the new trip needs to be booked within 12 months after cancellation, while others will allow you to book within 24 months.
Travelers booked on Disney cruises set to sail between now and May 31 can now change their reservations up until the day before they’re scheduled to board their ships and receive a 100% cruise credit that must be used within 12 months of their original sailing date.
Carnival Cruise Line customers booked on sailings departing between March 9 and March 31 can reschedule their trips up to 3 days before sailing, while customers booked on sailings departing between April 1 and May 31 have until March 31 to move their trips.
Cruise lines are getting flexible
Princess Cruises has also modified its cancellation policy for cruises scheduled through May 31, although it varies by departure date.
Royal Caribbean is allowing customers to cancel any cruise departing on or before July 31 up to 48 hours before departure, and receive credit that can be applied to any sailings departing in 2020 or 2021.
Viking, which offers river and ocean cruises, is offering a credit for cancellation to all travelers who made reservations made prior to March 2 (including all itineraries and years of departure) and guests who make any new reservations through April 30 that are currently available for sale. Those Viking travelers can change their cruise date or cancel their cruise at any time up until 24 hours before their planned departure without any cancellation fees. They will be issued vouchers valid for 24 months.
Make sure to check with your individual cruise line, as policies keep getting updated over time.
If you decide to sail …
If you still choose to go, here are some tips they offer:
- Remain vigilant and exercise normal precautions aboard a cruise ship and on shore, as you would whenever traveling abroad.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- Ensure cabin safety and make sure the door and balcony are properly locked at all times.
- Consider storing your travel documents and other valuables in a secure spot, such as a room or ship’s safe.
- Talk to the security personnel on board if you are the victim of a crime. The cruise ship will have procedures in place for handling a crime onboard.
- When you come ashore, follow local laws and customs. If you break the law, you will be subject to the justice system of the host country
- If you are the victim of a crime on shore, report it to local authorities, the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, and to cruise ship security personnel.
- If you lose your passport, report it immediately to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate and make arrangements to get a replacement passport, for a fee.
Read more on the state department’s travel warning here.