February 25, 2020
(3:10 p.m. EST) -- Between outright cruise port closures and ports only denying entry to Chinese nationals, it might feel like cruise ships are being bounced around Asia -- and even Caribbean and South Pacific waters -- due to mounting concerns over the spread of coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China.
Recently, Italy became the location of the largest outbreak of the virus outside of Asia, with 283 cases reported as of February 25. As a result, cruise lines have begun limiting access to anyone who has visited select areas of Italy, including Venice, nearly a month after the coronavirus outbreak began.
Port closures are affecting multiple cruises from Australia and Asia on South Pacific and Asia itineraries and world voyages. Replacement ports in the South Pacific include Vanuatu's Santo, Mystery Island and Port Vila. Affected cruise lines include Silversea, Windstar, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess and P&O. Some cruise lines are offering compensation in the region; Carnival has extended a $50 per person in onboard credit.
The following is a status report of which cruise ports are denying entry to cruise ships, which ports are not allowing Chinese passengers to disembark and which ports have seen a change in cruise ship traffic in response to the virus.
Ports Currently Closed to Cruise Ships
Hong Kong: Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong has shut both its cruise terminals until further notice as cruise lines cancel sailings and adjust itineraries to avoid calls on several Asia ports due to the coronavirus outbreak.
South Korea: South Korea has implemented a temporary ban on all cruise ships docking at its ports. For February, the only ship scheduled to call in was Holland America Line's Westerdam, which was barred from entering multiple ports.
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia: The Malyasian port of Kota Kinabalu has closed itself to all cruise ship traffic.
Taiwan: Keelung and other cruise ports in Taiwan closed their doors to cruise traffic on February 6, (making one exception on February 7 for a ship called Super Star Aquarius, which had a large number of Taiwanese passengers onboard).
Tonga: Entry to Nuku'alofa in Tonga was denied to Crystal Cruises' Crystal Serenity, CMV's Columbus and Transocean Kreuzfahrten's Astor. Crystal Serenity docked instead at Lautoka, Fiji, while Columbus sailed directly to Suva, Fiji, and extended its overnight stay; Astor proceeded to Auckland, New Zealand.
New Caledonia: Three New Caledonian ports -- Lifou, Mare and Isle of Pines -- remain closed after tribal chiefs made an unprecedented decision to bar cruise traffic two weeks ago. Cruise lines are in communication with the local chiefs to attempt to find a solution to the disruptions. A spokesperson for Carnival Australia said: "We are continuing our dialogue with the island community leaders."
Ports Denying Chinese Nationals
The Bahamas: No entry for anyone with prior 20-day mainland China travel, regardless of nationality
Singapore: No entry permitted for China passport holders, ship denied entry
Vietnam: No entry permitted for China passport holders, ship denied entry
Indonesia: No entry permitted to China passport holders
Sri Lanka: No arrival visas for China passport holders
India: No arrival visas for China passport holders
Malaysia: No entry permitted for people with China passports issued in Hubei, Zhejiang or Jiangsu provinces
Japan: No entry permitted for China passports issued in Hubei province
Philippines: According to Norwegian's website, the Philippines is not currently allowing Chinese nationals to disembark; guests with Chinese passports who are traveling on voyages that disembark in the Phillippines will not be allowed onboard their ships.
Cruise Lines Curb Recent Visitors to Multiple Territories, Now Parts of Italy
Many countries are refusing entry to anyone who has traveled from, to or through China during the height of the outbreak, requiring Chinese cruise passengers to submit to additional health screenings and document review.
Most cruise lines are no longer denying boarding to any passenger with a passport from China, Hong Kong or Macau, but the following cruise lines are examples of those that have issued special restrictions:
Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea: No admission to any guest who has traveled from, to or through mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, South Korea, and the Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto in the past 15 days; or any guest who has come in contact with anyone with 15-day prior travel to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, South Korea, and the Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto. (The CDC characterizes contact with an individual as coming within six feet (2M) of a person.)
Passengers must also pass a temperature reading and exhibit no flu-like symptoms. Mandatory specialized health screenings by Royal Caribbean will be performed on any guest who has traveled from, to or through Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and Italy (all regions other than Lombardy and Veneto) in the past 15 days (or guests who are uncertain about contact with individuals who have traveled from, to or through mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and Italy in the past 15 days.) Guests presenting with fever or low blood oximetry in the specialized health screenings will be denied boarding, but provided a full refund.
Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas: These lines are denying boarding to any guest and crew who has traveled from, visited or transited via airports in China, including Hong Kong and Macau, within 30 days of their voyage embarkation, regardless of nationality. The standard incubation period recognized by the WHO and US CDC for this virus is 14 days. Guests who are denied boarding will be issued a refund when they provide proof of travel.
MSC Cruises: Entry to any cruise ship denied to anyone who has traveled to, from or through mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau, (or transited via airports) in the past 14 days, or visited. The same rules apply to such guests’ travel companions (parent, spouse, child, siblings, or a companion who shares a stateroom).Similarly, anyone who lives in, or has traveled to, from or through any of the following towns in central northern Italy in the past 14 days, or visited, will be denied access: Casalpusterlengo, Codogno, Castiglione d'Adda, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo, San Fiorano and Vo. These are the municipalities that are subject to quarantine measures put in place by the Italian health authorities.
Anyone who, within 14 days before embarkation, has had close contact with, or helped care for, anyone suspected or diagnosed as having coronavirus, or who is currently subject to health monitoring for possible exposure to novel coronavirus, will be denied boarding.
Ports Experiencing Adjusted Cruise Calls
In addition to Shanghai and Hong Kong, ports across Asia have experienced a shift in cruise passenger traffic, with no determination on when calls will return to normal.
Jamaica: On February 25, MSC Meraviglia left Ocho Rios after awaiting a disembarkation clearance; a crew member had tested positive for influenza A (not coronavirus). According to an MSC spokesperson: "The local port health authority in Ocho Rios today requested further guidance from the National Ministry of Health in Jamaica’s capital of Kingston. After waiting in port for nearly four hours for formal clearance, ship’s command decided to leave Ocho Rios for the next port of call as the long wait had compromised the passengers’ proposed time at the destination."
As of January 31, Jamaica imposed a ban on travel to and from China; all persons entering the island from China are be subject to immediate quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.
Cayman Islands: On February 26, MSC Meraviglia was also barred from enetring the Cayman Islands.
Cambodia: Sihanoukville, Cambodia received Holland America's Westerdam on February 13, and the majority of passengers disembarked on February 14. In a statement from the line on February 15: "Westerdam is alongside in Sihanoukville Cambodia with 236 guests and 747 crew onboard. The remainder of guests from the voyage departed Sihanoukville via charter flights to Phnom Penh yesterday and today and are in various stages of transit home."
Thailand: The Port of Bangkok (Laem Chabang) is among the ports that denied entry to Holland America's Westerdam, despite no cases of coronavirus detected onboard at the time.
Philippines: Among ports losing cruise traffic is Subic, Philippines, which normally sees visits from lines such as Costa Cruises and Genting's Dream Cruises.
Japan: Diamond Princess, with 3,700 passengers and crew onboard, was quarantined in Yokohama until February 19, with an estimated 690 cases of coronavirus confirmed. Yokohama (Tokyo) was originally scheduled to receive Holland America's Westerdam (instead of Hong Kong and Shanghai) but denied the ship entry. The February 15 Westerdam cruise scheduled to embark in Yokohama was canceled.
Elsewhere in Japan, the cancellation of four of Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas sailings will decrease calls on the ports of Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Naha and Sasebo. A canceled MSC Splendida voyage was also scheduled to visit Nagasaki.
Malaysia: Changes in MSC Splendida's itinerary increased visits for Langkawi, Penang and Kuala Lampur in Malaysia, along with Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. On February 15, a passenger from Holland America's Westerdam was among a group of 145 passengers en route home through Kuala Lumpur airport when she presented symptoms and was held, but tested a false positive for coronavirus.
For more information on cruise cancellations and itinerary changes, see our coronavirus cruise line coverage.