Cruise Ships Quarantined
Hubei, the province in China where the coronavirus started, reported the deaths of 242 people yesterday. That is twice the number of people who had died the day before. The total number of fatalities has risen to a staggering 1,367.
COVID-19 Is The New Name
The coronavirus is now known as COVID-19. China has reported a whopping 59,805 people who are infected with the virus. The virus has traveled to 25 other countries where cases have been confirmed. The World Health Organization (WHO) has, for the first time, warned the virus poses a “grave threat” to the world.
Cruise Ship Passengers Being Infected
The virus is not only infecting people on land. It has also infected many people aboard cruise ships. Cruise lines with ships operating Asia itineraries are rerouting their trips. All cruise ships are staying away from ports in China. Some are excluding Singapore and Japan. The Diamond Princess is presently docked in Yokohama, Japan. Forty-four new cases of the coronavirus have been discovered, bringing the total to 218 people infected on the ship. The quarantine on board the vessel began Feb 5. It is expected to end on Feb 19. Passengers are mostly confined to their rooms. Food is delivered to them three times a day. Strict regulations have been posted, such as the passengers are only allowed out on open decks, in shifts, for an hour at a time. They must wear face masks, and they cannot stand closer than 6.5 feet to each other. The ship has 3,600 passengers aboard. Another ship, the World Dream, has been placed in quarantine. It is docked in Hong Kong and has 1800 passengers on board. A commercial cargo vessel, the Johannes Maersk, has been placed under quarantine since it is coming from China.
Cruise Industry Is Being Struck Hard
The $45-billion cruise industry faces significant challenges. They have been reluctant to release data on bookings although some travel advisers say that bookings are down by as much as 15 percent. It is possible that the spread of the virus might be the biggest challenge the cruise industry has ever dealt with before. China has been one of the most significant growth markets in the travel industry in recent years. Many ports have closed and have banned cruise ships. Hong Kong has been closed since Feb 6. Others include Busan, South Korea, the New Caledonian ports of Lifou, Mare, and the Isle of Pines.
Cruise Lines Are In Limbo
Wedbush Securities recently estimated that it cost Royal Caribbean about $4 million to cancel a recent four-day cruise. Ross Klein, from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, who studies the cruise industry, said, “Cruise companies have never seen this before and just don’t know what to do. For the cruise lines and the industry, a lot of these decisions are based on economics. They are asking themselves, ‘How do we get by spending the least amount of money and losing the least amount of money?'” Hopefully, the cruise lines will eventually be telling themselves that human beings are much more important than the money they do make or don’t make. Perhaps this will be a lesson for them.