April 15, 2003
Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Lines, which, like other cruise lines,
currently have a policy in place that denies boarding to passengers who have
traveled through Hong Kong, China, Vietnam and Singapore -- those areas
hardest hit by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome -- within the past ten
days, have each implemented that policy for the first time.
In Princess' case, 37 passengers bound for Regal Princess' 30 day
Asia-India-Mediterranean cruise, which departed from Bangkok on April 8, had
arrived to board the ship but had passed through one of the four countries
under advisory. These folks had traveled to Bangkok independently (Princess
had been able to re-route its air-sea folks away from SARS hotspots).
The cruise line required those denied-boarding passengers to stay in Bangkok
for ten days so the line could be sure they weren't showing symptoms.
Princess picked up hotel stays, air fare to the next port-of-call, and
offered a per diem based on passengers' cruise fares and spokeswoman Julie
Benson says all but a handful elected to sit out the waiting period in
Bangkok. Some of these passengers ten-day stints are already over and they
joined the ship in Kuala Lumpur. The second group departs Bangkok Thursday
to meet Regal Princess in Cochin, India. Those who elected to return home
were provided with travel and expense assistance and full refunds.
Over at Norwegian Cruise Line, a family of four from Hong Kong was denied
boarding on Norwegian Star in Hawaii because they admitted to having recently
traveled to a country on the SARS advisory list. Because the cruise was just
a seven day voyage -- and the ten day waiting period wouldn't make sense --
they were provided with travel arrangements home and reasonable expenses not to
mention a full refund.
In both cases -- Regal Princess and Norwegian Star -- cruise officials
emphasize that passengers were not infected with the disease. The cruise
lines were just following a prevention-minded policy implemented to reduce
the chances of allowing a SARS infection onboard.