Coronavirus impacts cruise ship passengers; what to do if you're planning a trip

Posted at 5:26 PM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 17:41:53-05

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. — With more than 170 cases of coronavirus now in the United States, thousands of people aboard a cruise ship from San Francisco are stuck at sea over concerns of coronavirus exposure.

CBS News reports a 71-year-old man who was a passenger on the ship last month died from the illness.

As the virus spreads, so does concern over traveling in close quarters with large groups.

Bad news if you’ve booked a cruise and you’re looking to back out: Standard travel insurance won’t help.

Travel agent Iris Martin owns Surreal Journeys Travel in Virginia Beach and says most epidemics aren’t covered, so people need to look into the policy they are buying.

“There is a ‘cancel for any reason' policy, so they just need to make sure that they understand what type of policy that they purchased.”

Carnival Cruise Line says all its ships are cleared to sail, so they aren’t refunding cruises at this point.

The good news is that canceling isn’t your only option if you’re hoping to halt your travel plans.

“It’s not a good idea to throw away money, so perhaps look into other destinations to go and visit maybe postpone your trip into a future date,” says Martin.

Carnival Cruise Line says hand sanitizer is located throughout the ship and they’re encouraging guests and crew to wash their hands frequently, but there are things you can do on your own if you find yourself traveling in large groups.

“Bring your sanitizer, wash your hands, stay away from sick people. Even when I’m on the plane, I’m wiping down everything— I bring my portable Lysols with me. Just stay proactive,” says Martin.

On the plus side, now is the perfect time to get your dream vacation at for a dream price.

Martin says airlines are slashing prices for flights now and in the future, so it’s the perfect time to get a bargain booking.

Related: How to protect yourself from coronavirus when flying

“Flights are dropping because people aren’t traveling as much, they’re canceling— airlines don’t like that. I’m getting flights for $300…that are usually $800- $900,” says Martin.