By Alison Fox
January 27, 2020
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The cruise industry has been rocked by the spread of the deadly coronavirus as multiple companies have cancelled upcoming sailings and others struggle to define ways to keep going while still keeping customers safe.

So far, the virus has killed at least 80 people in China and infected others across the world. While it started in the city of Wuhan, just over 500 miles west of Shanghai, cruise lines operating throughout the country have been forced to act.

“For travelers with upcoming cruises sailing to or from China, it’s best to contact your cruise line or travel advisor directly with any questions or concerns,” Chris Gray Faust, the managing editor of Cruise Critic, told Travel + Leisure on Monday, adding that “All cruise lines that have canceled cruises are offering affected guests the option to receive a full refund.”

Royal Caribbean has cancelled its Jan. 27 and Jan. 31 itineraries from Shanghai, according to Cruise Critic. The company’s Spectrum of the Seas ship was originally supposed to set sail for a four-day cruise to Okinawa Island on Monday, USA Today reported.

"The health and safety of our guests and crew is our primary concern, and we continue to work with the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and government health authorities to monitor the situation," a spokesman for Royal Caribbean told USA Today in a statement.

The Spectrum of the Seas is the company’s only ship that is currently home-ported in China, the paper added.

In addition to Royal Caribbean, Cruise Critic reported Costa Cruises cancelled eight sailings: it’s Jan. 25 and upcoming Jan. 31 sailings on the Costa Serena, Jan. 27 and Jan. 31 sailings on the Costa Atlantica, Jan. 26 and Feb. 2 itineraries on the Costa Venezia, as well as Jan. 25, Jan. 30 and Feb. 2 cruises on Costa neoRomantica.

The cancellations come after reports that four people were found to have a high temperature when the Costa Venezia docked in Shenzhen on Sunday. A further 148 people who were from or had recently visited Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated, were isolated for further screening, Cruise Critic reported.

All 4,973 passengers and 1,249 crew on that ship were checked for coronavirus symptoms.

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"Costa Crociere is dedicated to the health and safety of all guests and crew. We are strictly monitoring the situation of the so-called 'Wuhan Pneumonia' which is causing concern among Public Health Authorities and the [traveling] public,” a company spokesperson told the outlet. "The safety, security and welfare of all guests and crew are our absolute priority has increased health and safety measures as a matter of caution. The company adopts a specific protocol to help prevent the introduction and/or spread of any infectious diseases."

MSC Cruises has also cancelled an upcoming Jan. 28 sailing on the MSC Splendida. That ship will stay in its homeport until at least Feb. 1.

While Norwegian Cruise Line and Viking Cruises have not cancelled any itineraries, each is monitoring the spread of the virus.

For its part, Norwegian introduced "non-touch" temperature screenings for passengers who leave from Chinese ports and will not allow anyone to board who exhibits a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Cruise Critic reported that passengers who visited Wuhan in the past 30 days will also not be allowed to board a ship.

A spokesman for Viking told Cruise Critic that the company doesn’t have any sailings scheduled for China until March and is “monitoring the Wuhan coronavirus situation closely and will continue to do so in the coming weeks.”