If the Coronavirus has you worried about taking a cruise, or traveling in general, you’re not alone. The U.S. State Department issued a Do Not Travel advisory Feb. 2 for all of China, and advises increased caution if traveling to Japan and South Korea due to the outbreak of the disease.
In the wake of the quarantine of the Diamond Princess off Japan, which one passenger told the New York Times was a “petri dish,” your appetite for a cruise vacation might be somewhat suppressed. Norwegian Cruises (NCLH) - Get Report has canceled or redeployed at least 40 cruises, mostly in Asia. The company says they have implemented additional cleaning and disinfection protocols on board all voyages, in addition to “already rigorous sanitization standards in place.”
Princess Cruises, which owns the Diamond Princess, says it is taking the ship to a special service dock, where it will receive a rigorous Level 3 cleaning and disinfection, like hospital operating rooms get, to fully sanitize staterooms and public areas. Princess is owned by Carnival Corp. (CCL) - Get Report. Carnival's other lines, and competitor Royal Caribbean (RCL) - Get Report, also have been hit hard.
Meanwhile, hundreds of cruise ships continue to sail the world, but as you don your mask and wring your hands with sanitizer, you might wonder, how clean are these ships?
The Centers for Disease Control regularly inspects the hundreds of cruise ships that enter U.S. ports, as part of its Vessel Sanitation Program, checking the ventilation and potable water systems, looking for proper food preparation and storage, and inspecting the sanitation of common areas, dining rooms, swimming pools and medical facilities. The cruise ships are scored on a 100-point scale; points are deducted from the score when there is a pattern of similar violations or when there is a single, significant violation. A score of 85 or below is considered unsatisfactory.
These are the cleanest cruise ships -- those that scored 99-100 in the most recent inspections.