Australians are being advised to think twice before taking an overseas cruise due to the rapid spread of coronavirus.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) has updated its coronavirus (COVID-19) travel advice telling Australians, particularly those with medical conditions, they should reconsider taking an overseas cruise at this time.
The update cites instances of cruise ships being put in quarantine, countries preventing disembarkation of ships or denying entry to ports, itinerary changes and disruptions as having a significant consequence on travellers.
“The situation is fluid and you can expect further disruptions,” DFAT said.
“Repatriation from cruise ships affected by COVID-19 should not be relied upon as an option.
“If, despite our advice, you proceed with your cruise and you’re concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on your plans, check with your travel agent or cruise company and read and subscribe to our travel advisories for your destinations, including transit locations.”
This comes one day after the US State Department gave its citizens similar advice.
“US citizens, particularly travellers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship,” said a bulletin on the State Department’s website.
“CDC [US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] notes increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment.”
In response to the new advice, Silversea has released a statement confirming that as part of Royal Caribbean Group’s Cruise with Confidence program, it will be introducing additional measures to protect travel agent commissions.
Silversea will allow travel partners to retain any commissions already paid, and pay commissions on bookings cancelled between 9 March and 31 July 2020 after they were paid in full, provided the cancellation occurs outside of the 48-hour cancellation window outlined in the Cruise with Confidence program.
Further, bookings made through redemption of these Future Cruise Credits will also be eligible for full commission based on the cruise value of the new booking.
Italy in lockdown
This comes as Italy’s Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte told reporters the restrictions he placed on most of northern Italy would be extended to the whole country.
Conte told reporters the country’s population of over 60 million people would only be able to travel for work, medical reasons or emergencies until 3 April.
“We’re having an important growth in infection… and of deaths,” he said, according to the BBC.
“The whole of Italy will become a protected zone.
“We all must give something up for the good of Italy. We have to do it now.
“This is why I decided to adopt even more strong and severe measures to contain the advance… and protect the health of all citizens.”
The new measures also ban public gatherings for the entire country.
“No more nightlife; we can’t allow this anymore since they are occasions for contagion,” Conte said.
The advice for travel to Italy on Smart Traveller has been updated to “Exercise a high degree of caution” for the entire country and “Reconsider your need to travel” for the region of Lombardy, and to the provinces of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio nell’ Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro and Urbino, Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, Vercelli, Padova, Treviso, and Venezia.
The number of people to have died of the virus in Italy shot up from 366 to 463 on Monday, with the total number of infections rising 25 per cent from 5,883 to 7,375, making it the worst-hit country after China.
Featured image credit: XiFotos.