April 22, 2003
In a move that's raising the eyebrows of travelers and cruise industry
professionals alike, Crystal Cruises has announced that, as a preventative
action, it has expanded its denied-passenger-boarding-policy to include
travelers (and crew) from Toronto, Canada. Toronto is the one of the top
cruise travel markets in North America.
In a statement posted on its website, Crystal outlines the new policy: "For
cruises departing in May, we will deny boarding to guests and crew from the
designated affected areas. According to WHO, an "affected area" is an area
in which local chain(s) of transmission of SARS is/are occurring as reported
by the national public health authorities. At this writing, these areas are
Hong Kong and mainland China; Hanoi, Vietnam; Singapore; and Toronto,
Spokeswoman Mimi Weisband says the rationale about adding Toronto to the
banned-from-boarding policy was a matter of fairness. "When Toronto was
added [to the WHO's affected area list] we couldn't in all good conscience
deny boarding to guests from the Asian areas affected without addressing
The new policy, she says, which is effective immediately and runs through
the end of May, impacts under 20 Toronto-based folks. Those passengers were
offered the option of a refund or a rollover to another cruise though there
was no additional compensation.
Ultimately, she says, "We're not looking to eliminate any potential travel
market. But we had to look at the risk versus the benefit and while we hate
to give refunds we felt it was in the best interest of everyone."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today did issue a travel
alert on Toronto; it recommends only that U.S. citizens traveling there take
certain precautions --- avoiding health care facilities where SARS patients
are being treated, frequent hand washing, and avoidance of large groups,
At this point, other cruise lines we contacted -- including Princess, which
had put a very aggressive policy into place for its Regal Princess Asia
cruises -- all say they have no plans to bar passengers from Toronto.