Norwegian Cruise Line backed down a bit from a policy arising from the coronavirus outbreak, saying that crew members who hold a passport from China, Hong Kong or Macao can now board its ships if they have not been to those places in at least 30 days.
Travelers, however, are still banned just for having such passports. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has a similar policy.
Norwegian, the world’s third-largest cruise company, said in a statement that the measures were “put in place to ensure the safety and well-being of all our guests and crew.”
The coronavirus outbreak has infected more than 37,000 people and killed more than 800, mostly in the Wuhan province of China where the outbreak originated.
In contrast, Carnival Cruise Line, the world’s largest cruise company, does not restrict people from boarding based on their passports. It has said it will prohibit travelers from boarding its ships if they have traveled to, from or through China, Hong Kong or Macao in the 14 days prior to their ship’s scheduled departure.
The incubation period for the virus is believed to be 14 days.
Royal Caribbean has also adopted a policy of denying boarding to any passenger, regardless of nationality, who has been in China, Hong Kong or Macao in the 15 days before the departure of a cruise ship. Norwegian is denying boarding to any traveler who has visited China, Hong Kong or Macao in the 30 days before the cruise.
Many of the world’s cruise lines, including Norwegian, have also canceled or postponed trips that call on ports in mainland China.
The outbreak has already prompted the quarantine of passengers on at least two ships and led other cruise companies to implement new health regulations for their passengers.
The effects of the outbreak on the cruise industry could be substantial, considering that cruise companies have in the last few years turned their attention to China to try to attract its estimated 83 million potential cruise customers.