Though the media frenzy surrounding the H1N1 virus formerly known as swine flu has, for the most part, fizzled, the travel advisory against travel to Mexico continues to impact cruises, with ships skipping calls there through at least mid-June.
Now, industry trade publication Travel Weekly reports that a big name in the cruise industry has spoken up on the issue.
Carnival Corp. Chairman and CEO Micky Arison -- who is also chairman of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), a trade organization composed of 15 member cruise lines -- has written letters to both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on behalf of the FCCA. The letters urge the administration to encourage the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to revise the travel advisory.
In the identical letters, dated May 5 and provided to Cruise Critic by the FCCA, Arison writes, "The impact of this ban on the economy of Mexico is very serious. It will have unintended consequences on Mexican citizens that include loss of employment, revenues to governments, and ultimately their public health and welfare ... It is now apparent that the health implications of H1N1 are not limited to Mexico."
As of today, Mexico has reported 2,446 laboratory-confirmed human cases of infection, compared to the United States' 3,352, according to the World Health Organization; 6,497 cases have been confirmed worldwide. (For more information on the H1N1 virus, check out our Q&A.)
In the letter, Arison noted that cruise lines have been screening passengers for illness, feature medical facilities onboard and have worked closely for years with the CDC.
"Effectively banning travel to the entire country causes unnecessary widespread harm to Mexico. We respectfully request that the State Department encourage CDC to revise this Travel Advisory to allow responsible travel to Mexico."
In other swine flu news, Carnival Cruise Lines announced today that passengers who were onboard Carnival Splendor's April 26 sailing or Carnival Ecstasy's April 27 sailing -- which were in progress when the travel restrictions were announced, seriously altering those itineraries -- will receive a 50 percent discount on a future cruise. For more information on compensation and rebooking options, click here.
Stay tuned to Cruise Critic for the latest on H1N1 as it pertains to cruise travel.
--by Melissa Baldwin Paloti, Managing Editor
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Cruise Industry to U.S.: Revise Mexico Travel Policy
May 14, 2009