Sapphire Princess and Coral Princess avoided Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas today, respectively, according to a company spokeswoman. Sapphire Princess' Mexico ports will be replaced with calls on San Diego and Catalina. (11:10 a.m. EDT) -- As people around the world become increasingly concerned about the swine flu outbreak in Mexico, the first round of port call cancellations has begun.
This morning, a U.K.-based spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Lines confirmed that three Carnival ships will skip Mexico port calls today. Carnival Inspiration and Carnival's Holiday were due in Cozumel while Carnival Elation was scheduled to visit Ensenada today. Carnival Paradise will also skip a call in Ensenada tomorrow. We're still awaiting further details on swine flu-related itinerary changes, which we're told will be issued at 5 p.m. EDT.
Also, Holland America has posted on its Web site that Ryndam will skip a scheduled call at Mazatlan today. The announcement says, "We hope to have clarification from the CDC during the day Tuesday, April 27, at which time we will advise regarding the remaining port calls on ships cruising Mexico." And in the U.K., Fred. Olsen has said that Balmoral will skip a call on Acapulco next week (the ship will have an extended stay in San Diego and an extra port -- Costa Rica's Puntarenas -- has been added).
At press time, we have not received new information from other cruise lines in the area, which include Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, NCL and Princess Cruises.
As we reported yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. and the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office have issued travel warnings advising citizens against nonessential travel to Mexico. The U.S. Department of State issued a similar travel alert, urging citizens to follow the guidelines put forth by the CDC.
We do not know at this time whether cruise lines will relax cancelation policies for those who may be ill or fear becoming ill. Also, there have been no reports thus far of compensation due to the missed port calls.
There are 26 laboratory confirmed cases of swine flu in Mexico, according to the World Health Organization, though the number of suspected cases is much higher. There are 40 laboratory confirmed cases in the U.S., according to the CDC's Web site, and two in the U.K., according to various media outlets. To date, there have been no swine flu-related deaths outside of Mexico, where the suspected death toll is nearly 150.
We'll keep you posted.
--by Melissa Baldwin Paloti, Managing Editor