Cruise ship Bahamas
Photograph ©2010 by Brian Cohen.

Official Warning Issued Against Travel by Cruise Ship Due to 2019 Novel Coronavirus by the Department of State of the United States

An official warning against travel by cruise ship due to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus — which is also known as COVID-19 or 2019-nCoV — was issued earlier this week by the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State of the United States.

Official Warning Issued Against Travel by Cruise Ship Due to 2019 Novel Coronavirus by the Department of State of the United States

The official warning — displayed in its entirety — is as follows:

Passengers on Cruise Ships

U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship. CDC notes increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment. In order to curb the spread of COVID-19, many countries have implemented strict screening procedures that have denied port entry rights to ships and prevented passengers from disembarking.  In some cases, local authorities have permitted disembarkation but subjected passengers to local quarantine procedures. 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.

This is a fluid situation. CDC notes that older adults and travelers with underlying health issues should avoid situations that put them at increased risk for more severe disease. This entails avoiding crowded places, avoiding non-essential travel such as long plane trips, and especially avoiding embarking on cruise ships. Passengers with plans to travel by cruise ship should contact their cruise line companies directly for further information and continue to monitor the website and see the latest information from the CDC:

Downloadable PDF card to take with you while you travel.

Special Note for Cuba Travel

If you are traveling to Cuba by cruise ship, ensure that shore excursions and purchases comply with regulations imposed by the United States.

Note that because credit cards and debit cards which are issued by financial institutions in the United States do NOT work in Cuba, you will need to bring enough cash to cover your stay — including for lodging, dining, ground transportation, and purchases at souvenir shops as four of numerous examples.

Cruise Ship Industry Under Pressure Due to 2019 Novel Coronavirus

The cruise ship industry delivered a comprehensive health plan to the federal government of the United States on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. The plan was not immediately available, but Mike Pence — who is the current vice president of the United States — said that the government would review it in the next 24 hours.

“Pence added that the plan includes advanced screening, improved medical services aboard the ships, airlift evacuation and land based care protocols, all at the expense of the cruise lines”, according to this article from Cruise Industry News. “In addition, Pence said the vulnerable population should not take a cruise.”

The question as to whether a bailout for the cruise industry may be possible was not answered.


Greater than 13 million passengers from the United States embarked on cruise ships for travel in 2018, according to this report by the Cruise Lines International Association.

This aforementioned official warning from the federal government of the United States is one in a series of events which has negatively dominated the cruise ship industry over the past couple of months, as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus has prompted cruise ship companies to change policies — such as allow cancellations prior to sailing, and implement mandatory temperature screenings to the procedure of checking in aboard a cruise ship.

If you decide to travel via cruise ship despite the official warning, you are strongly advised to please ensure that you read the extensive and detailed advice on what you should do as offered by both the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State of the United States and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Photograph ©2010 by Brian Cohen.

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