Coronavirus impact: Cruise operators to check past 15-day itineraries of guests, crew


Cruise operators such as Royal Caribbean Cruises and Costa Cruises that cater to Indian travellers are undertaking thorough checks to ensure safety of guests and crew, representatives for both said, after two luxury cruise liners with Indians on board were quarantined in Hong Kong and off Japan amid an outbreak of the deadly novel Coronavirus.

Royal Caribbean is implementing several ‘intentionally conservative’ measures to protect guests and crew, which include denying boarding to any individual who has travelled to or come in contact with anyone who has travelled from, to or through mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau in the past 15 days, said Varun Chadha, CEO of Tirun, the Indian representative of Royal Caribbean Cruises.

This has been done after consultation with the US CDC, WHO and other public health authorities, he added.

“Our protocols include professional medical treatment; quarantining of unwell individuals from the general ship population; and intensified ship cleaning, air filtration, and sanitization procedures. We are assessing developments constantly and will update these measures, as needed,” Chadha said.

Nishith Saxena, founder and director of company Cruise Professionals said there could be a negative impact on bookings for the Far East, at least for the next 2-3 weeks.

“Since most Far-East and South East Asian countries are adopting stringent measures to monitor any further spread of Coronavirus at all points of entry – which include ports, airports or border roads, in all likelihood the outbreak would be contained within the next few weeks,” he said.

“Still, keeping in mind the traveller’s health concern and the reduced air-connectivity within various countries in the affected regions, we expect a negative impact on the bookings at least for the next 2-3 weeks,” he added.

Bookings for other parts of the world are not impacted, he added.

Reports emerged over the weekend that the total number of infected cases aboard the Princess Diamond cruise ship, which was quarantined off the coast of Japan, had risen to 63.

Another cruise ship, World Dream, has been quarantined in Hong Kong after eight former passengers caught the virus.

Nalini Gupta, head of Costa Cruises in India, which has Indians travelling primarily on its Mumbai-Kochi-Maldives, Dubai and European routes, said although cruise liners and governments across the world are taking enough precautions to contain the virus outbreak, it will have a psychological impact on travellers looking at bookings for the summer.

“We are part of the Carnival Corporation. Carnival like other companies is not allowing Chinese passengers onboard or those who have been to China. Others who have symptoms of cold or flu are being thoroughly checked as this could impact other innocent passengers. Liners are working in sync with local port authorities globally and in states like Kerala and Maharashtra, and thorough checks are taking place,” she added.

Tour operators said both leisure and business travel bookings to destinations like Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau have also been hit, besides China.

Travel bookings portal Cleartrip said it has seen a 40% drop in corporate bookings to China and some other countries in South East Asia since news emerged of the virus outbreak.

Around 40 people in Singapore have now been infected, The Straits Times reported on Sunday.

GB Srithar, regional director – India, Middle East and South Asia at the Singapore Tourism Board, said while it was too early to determine how leisure and business visitor arrivals from specific markets have been affected, the board has seen immediate impact on the country’s tourism industry as a whole because of travel restrictions on visitors from China.

Source:- Economic Times