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Coronavirus concerns: Many thinking twice before booking a cruise

Jacksonville-based travel agent says he is fielding a lot of calls about the virus

Coronavirus concerns: Many thinking twice before booking a cruise
Coronavirus concerns: Many thinking twice before booking a cruise

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the new coronavirus spreads across the globe, with tens of thousands affected, some cruise ship passengers are growing in concern.

There have been no reports of confirmed cases on Florida cruise ships and they’re running as scheduled, but some future vacationers are worried about going out to sea.

The virus has infected more than 71,000 people globally and killed more than 1,770, with the vast majority of the cases in China, where the outbreak began two months ago. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed 467 people in the U.S. as being under investigation for the novel coronavirus.

Travel agents across the country are reporting drops in bookings by as much as 15%, according to a New York Times article.

Meanwhile, more than 300 American cruise ship passengers were being quarantined at military bases in California and Texas on Monday after arriving from Japan on charter flights overnight. The U.S. said it arranged for the evacuation because people on the Diamond Princess were at a high risk of exposure to the virus that’s been spreading in Asia. For the departing Americans, the evacuation cuts short a 14-day quarantine that began aboard the cruise ship Feb. 5 but begins a new quarantine.

“They have sent over a dozen emails assuring us there would not be an additional quarantine,” said Karey Maniscalco via FaceTime. “And they just told us that we’d be re-quarantined for 14 more days.”

Another ship in the China Sea has reportedly been turned away from five ports out of fear passengers are infected. The impact is making waves across the world as many travel agents say people are scared to set sail.

“There’s a lot of questions about it and there’s a concern,” said Scott Lara, a Jacksonville-based travel agent who runs theCruiseGenius.com.

Lara noted he has been fielding a lot of calls

“I did have one couple cancel,” Lara said. “Because they just want to wait until everything settles down.”

Stocks have dropped as the industry takes a hit. Lara said, however, the issues are confined and he believes it’s still safe to cruise. He said cruise companies work hard to keep common areas sanitized and safe.

“It’s important to the cruise ships to make sure the ships are clean so people have a great time on their vacation,” he added.

Still for some, like those with weak immune systems, it may be too much. That’s why Lara recommends travelers pay close attention and stay prepared.

“Travel insurance is a case-by-case basis,” Lara said. “If to really read the fine print to see what’s covered and what’s not.”

Jacksonville has one cruise ship that sails from JaxPort: the Carnival Ecstasy. The latest voyage left Saturday and returns Wednesday.

About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.