Carry on sailing – despite the Coronavirus
A University of Brighton tourism expert is advising cruise ship passengers “not to be nervous but be cautious” and to carry on with their travel plans.
Dr Jennifer Holland, Lecturer in Competitive Marketing and a former cruise liner employee, said: “People need to take precautions and follow health guidelines but there are many cruises that are still operating.”
Dr Holland, whose advice was broadcast yesterday by BBC radio stations throughout the UK, said the cruise industry has “stepped up” to the challenge and developed “incredible protocols and guidelines for dealing with outbreaks”.
But she warned: “The coronavirus is totally unprecedented in its scope and scale and I think nobody could predict how rapidly it is spreading and how much of an impact it is having on the travel industry.
“This crisis has impacted on many ships. At the moment there’s at least eight that are tied up, waiting for passengers. All their itineraries have been cancelled. There are three ships that have been repositioned to Australia, other ships to California and to Europe – it is having a huge ripple affect not just on ships that have been cancelled but, across the world, tourists are fearful of going.
“It’s not just the ships that have been affected but all of the suppliers, the tour operators, the airlines – there’s a huge knock on effect, a crippling effect on tourism globally.”
Dr Holland said even her husband has been affected: “He is still working. His ship is repositioning from Australia to Taiwan like many ships at the moment – for the cherry blossom and summer season.
“It’s a really uncertain time. There’s over a million employees worldwide who work directly in the cruise industry and hundreds of thousands of them are affected by this – not just my husband.”
Dr Holland said there have been many technological advances aboard ships to prevent the spread of illnesses: “Air filtration has changed a lot since the Legionnaires outbreaks. Most ships have what they call an outbreak prevention plan where they screen passengers before they get onto the ship and some ships are doing thermal scanning in the terminals and in all of the ports and when passenger go ashore.
“There are various guidelines for sanitation and for cleaning on board. A lot of these ships now have hand washing facilities outside all of the dining outlets because obviously washing your hands is the number one way to prevent illness.
“If anyone presents with symptoms they will confine them to their cabins for two to three days to stop the spreading of the illness. Unfortunately, there are some people who don’t stick to that confinement and that can cause problems on board if they do spread the illness. The cruise lines can actually block people from going ashore if needs be to prevent them from spreading the illness.”
Dr Holland wrote on the subject for The Conversation, the news site written by academics, in which she advised: “When you’re dreaming of your next holiday, remember that, although the current coronavirus outbreak shows just how disastrous a holiday can go, ultimately, all travel involves risk.
“And if you do book a cruise, try to book one with a balcony – in case you find yourself quarantined for several weeks.”