April 25, 2003
For Canada-based cruise travelers heading to U.S. ports-of-call, the World Health Organization's recent inclusion of Toronto on its severely affected areas list has, for the most part, caused just a bit of procedural change. Cruise lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Princess have slightly altered surveillance-at-embarkation procedures for anyone hailing from, or transiting through, Toronto. Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean have implemented policies they may request that these folks undergo a temperature check (one symptom of SARS is a 100.4 temperature and above). At Princess, the embarkation questionnaire has been revised to include questions directed at those who live in or have traveled from Toronto within a very recent timeframe; a cruise line spokeswoman says that that those who fit into that category and who are symptomatic will be denied boarding. Those exhibiting no symptoms will be handed a "health alert card." At this point, no cruise line is following in Crystal Cruises footsteps; Crystal, as reported earlier this week, has implemented a policy that prohibits passengers from Toronto -- whether symptomatic or not --from cruising on its ships through May. And while none of the lines we queried has yet found it necessary to deny boarding to anyone with a Toronto affiliation (and symptoms of SARS), there have been a smattering of cases involving travelers who had recently visited the other areas -- Hong Kong and China, in particular. A Royal Caribbean International spokesman told Cruise Critic that three passengers bound for a Mexican Riviera cruise out of San Francisco on Celebrity Mercury were turned away because one of the group had recently traveled to one of the affected countries. Over at sister cruise line Royal Caribbean, three more passengers, all traveling together on a Los Angeles-based Vision of the Seas Mexican Riviera trip, were denied boarding because two of them had traveled to a severely impacted Asian country in the very recent past.