Speaking at a White House press conference tonight to provide updates on the COVID-19 Coronavirus situation, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), told reporters if you are healthy, there is no reason to eschew cruise vacations.
“If you are a healthy young person, there is no reason if you want to go on a cruise ship, go on a cruise ship.”
The answer was in response to a question by John Roberts of Fox News. Initially Fauci did not answer the question, one of several from the veteran reporter.
However, Roberts asked it again, saying that many Americans who have planned cruises, including family vacations for spring break, are concerned about what they should do.
Fauci then said, “If you are a healthy young person, there is no reason if you want to go on a cruise ship, go on a cruise ship.”
Vice President Mike Pence then followed up Fauci by saying advice to avoid vacations at sea was targeted to older people with “serious underlying conditions.”
Last year, cruise lines carried over 30 million guests worldwide. Over the past couple decades, cruises have become popular with families. Amenities including surf rides, rock climbing walls, waterparks, and zip lines have helped bring younger customers.
Yesterday, Fauci told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, “Elderly with underlying conditions, heart disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes (should) not wait, but right now, to sort of take look at things that are at high risk, crowded places, getting on airplanes, and absolutely don’t get on a cruise ship.”
Then last night, the U.S. State Department seemingly called for widescale avoidance of cruise vacations, saying, “U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship.”
Cruise line CEOs had met with Pence in South Florida Saturday prior to the State Department update. During the briefing tonight, he said plans from the group to streamline containment and quarantine procedures are expected tomorrow.
A report today in Travel Market Report, a news site for travel advisors, quoted a spokesperson from industry trade group CLIA as saying, “Any action to restrict cruising is unwarranted, and at odds with the World Health Organization which ‘continues to advise against the application of travel or trade restrictions to countries experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks.’”
The spokesperson continued, “Singling out the travel and tourism industry, and cruise lines specifically, will have significant detrimental impacts — some possibly irreversible — on the national and local economies.”
The industry supports 1.18 million jobs and $50.2 billion in annual wages, including over 300,000 jobs in South Florida.
Major cruise lines’ stocks continued to get hammered today in one of Wall Street’s worst days ever. Shares in Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Ltd., are all down more than 50% from mid-January.