With some ships being placed into quarantine and many ports refusing to accept disembarking passengers, the Australian Government has advised Aussie holidaymakers to rethink taking any overseas cruises at this time.
In a special alert on its Smartraveller website, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) states that “Australians, particularly those with underlying health concerns should reconsider taking an overseas cruise at this time due to COVID-19”.
“The itineraries of a number of cruise ships have changed. Disruptions to cruise ship itineraries due to COVID-19 can have significant consequences for travellers. The situation is fluid and you can expect further disruptions,” the recommendation reads.
It also tells holidaymakers that repatriation from cruise ships affected by COVID-19, like the case of Diamond Princess last month, should not be relied upon as an option.
Travellers who still want to proceed with their cruise have been told to check with their travel agent or cruise company, and stay abreast of travel advisories for destinations, including transit locations, on the Smartraveller website.
It also urges prospective passengers to check with Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) Australasia's policies to help prevent the spread of the virus.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is an increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment.
But DFAT acknowledges that the industry has put “strong measures in place for the health and safety of passengers” such as a full screening of anyone boarding ships and refusing “anyone who has visited or transited the most affected countries (China, including Hong Kong and Macau, Iran, South Korea and the most affected municipalities in Italy) in the 14 days before embarkation”.
Visit the Smartraveller website for more information.
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