CDC Issues Travel Advisory for St. Martin; Cruise Lines Monitoring Situation

December 19, 2013
(Update: December 20, 11:20 a.m. EST) -- Carnival Cruise Lines will inform passengers on its two ships that call in St. Maarten, Carnival Dream and Carnival Valor, about the health advisory, and provide basic information and precautionary advice.

(10:10 a.m.) -- The CDC has issued a travel advisory for the Caribbean island of St. Martin, urging visitors to take precautions against a rare mosquito-borne virus.

Ten cases of chikungunya, an illness that causes high fever and severe joint pain, have been reported on the French side of the island, also home to the popular cruise port St. Maarten. It's the first time that a local transmission of the virus has been reported in the Americas, and while the illness is not deadly or contagious, there is no vaccine.

No cruise lines have changed their plans to dock in St. Maarten, although most are watching the situation. “At moment, we include details for guests to bring proper clothing and consider certain insect repellants in the Know Before You Go documentation for each cruise to the area,” said Erik Elvejord, spokesman for Holland America Line.

The CDC recommends that travelers to St. Martin take steps to prevent mosquito bites, by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, as well as insect repellant with high levels of protection.

-- By Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor