Ebola and Cruising

Ebola and Cruising

There is a frenzy of news surrounding ebola and travel. While reading a slew of online cruise forums this morning, it was a hot topic for obvious reasons. The news broke that one person who handled ebola samples from the victim in Dallas was on a cruise ship, showing no symptoms, but still two days away from the incubation period.

It’s sad to see people living in such great fear. We take great pride in being part of the cruise industry. It is truly one of the safest ways to travel. And it is frustrating to hear of someone who should have been honest. The same goes for the worker who is now infected and was on an airplane which is way worse.

The cruise lines have always been a target in the news for disease control. They take more steps in regards to disease prevention than any other vacation destination, transportation and even workplace. If you travel a lot, then you have most likely been on an airplane next to the guy who is coughing and sneezing the entire flight. And you probably have never had anyone question your health before you got on a train or as you walked into your office. The cruise lines are well prepared for contagious diseases and often are the first to up their health standards quickly when something like an outbreak. Not something you see the airlines, hotels or resorts doing or at least sharing publically.

The cruise lines have a policy where when you check in for your cruise at the port, you are required to fill out a health form. You can bet this form now has additional questions about where you’ve recently traveled in the world. The purpose of this form is to identify potential health risks and to avoid sick people getting on a ship. They are looking for people who show signs of colds, flu and now exposure to ebola.

With the ebola scare, cruise lines started putting processes in place worldwide, well in advance of recent events in the news. Royal Caribbean released this statement:

“We are aggressively taking some of the most aggressive measures in the travel industry to minimize the risk of illness. All guest and crew must answer health questionnaires before being permitted to step foot aboard a ship. We have added an additional question regarding travel to the affected countries. We also scan passports for stamps and visas from the affected countries. We will not permit any guest or crew member to board our ships that have traveled to the affected countries in the past 30 days. We will not permit any guest or crew member to board our ships that have had contact with a victim of the illness in the past 30 days. We are reaching out to future guests with passports or mailing addresses in the affected areas before they travel to the ship.”

The cruise lines all follow a similar process. Cruising is one of the safest ways to travel. The airlines are not going to ask you to answer a questionnaire and if you do have symptoms direct you see one of their medical staff for an analysis before you are permitted on board.

People do get sick. Get travel insurance so you don’t feel compelled to take your cruise because you have already paid for it and there may not be a refund. That is what travel insurance is for. And be honest with yourself and the cruise line.

We will happily be on a cruise ship next week and trust our fellow passengers will be honest when asked about their health and travel history. The one thing we do know is the cruise line will do everything they can to keep their passengers and crew safe and germ free.

What has been your experience when traveling and how different places try to protect their guests from disease? Share in the comments below.