Will Avian Flu Impact Your Cruise to Asia?

December 16, 2005
As cruise lines begin their Asia sailing seasons, the issue of avian flu -- and its potential impact on cruise travelers there -- is making itself heard. At Oceania Cruises, whose new Nautica is sailing a sold-out maiden season in Asia, a spokesman reported some cancellations by nervous travelers -- cabins that he noted were immediately snapped up by more adventurous folk who'd been placed on a waiting list for the ship, where demand for its Asia series of cruises exceeded availability.

Cruise Critic contacted a handful of other lines sailing in the region as well to gauge concerns. According to Holland America's Mary Schimmelman, "our ship will definitely take the usual sanitary precautions -- asking guests to disinfect as they embark and disembark and refrain from those activities as noted by the International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL) and the World Health Organization (WHO). But," she adds, "no itineraries have been affected at this point and none of our shore excursions take guests to areas and activities that would put them or our crew at risk."

Indeed, the ICCL has posted a statement on its Web site offering tips for people traveling in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia and China. Among them are the obvious -- avoiding contact with live poultry and wild birds, staying away from live animal markets and poultry farms, avoiding contact with contaminated surfaces, and not eating undercooked or raw poultry, egg or duck dishes.