What Cruise Lines Have Had Zika Outbreaks? Several Are Offering New Travel Options To Expectant Mothers
Ah, cruises. Relaxing in the sun, unlimited drinking, and... Zika virus? For some travelers, these supposedly-fun vacations are causing worry, given that many cruise ships dock in countries that have recently been plagued by the mosquito-borne virus. So what cruise lines have had Zika outbreaks?
Carnival Corp, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Windstar all port in places with outbreaks, meaning that passengers who step off the boat for a few hours of browsing the gift shops could come back onboard carrying more than a seashell necklace and a shirt saying, "Someone in the U.S. Virgin Islands loves me." However, all of these cruise lines are offering some way for at-risk passengers to reschedule or cancel their trips.
Though Zika is fairly innocuous for most who are infected with it, causing symptoms like a mild fever and muscle pain that tend to go away on their own within a week, it's much more worrisome for pregnant women. Specifically, Zika has been potentially linked to microecephaly, a birth defect in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains and smaller-than-usual heads.
The CDC recently issued a warning to travelers to practice enhanced precautions when heading to a long list of popular vacation destinations, including Puerto Rico, Brazil, Jamaica, and Costa Rica. Now, several popular cruise lines are allowing certain passengers who'd previously booked trips to those destinations to reschedule them as well.
Norwegian Cruise Line's policy only applies to expectant mothers, and allows them reschedule their cruise for a future date, or swap it for a different, virus-free destination. Everyone else, it advises, should wear long shirts and pants, and use insect repellant. Carnival is offering future cruise credits to pregnant women, and Royal Caribbean will help expectant mothers develop alternate itineraries so that they can hang out on a boat worry-free.
All in all, while it's definitely a good idea to reconsider tropical cruise plans if you're expecting, some people think that the Zika panic is a little overblown. "People need to put it in perspective,” Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told USA Today. “There are many other diseases that are much more virulent including influenza, measles and chicken pox."
And finally, some good news — the CDC just lifted its travel warnings on four popular travel destinations, including Mexico City and Bogata, Colombia. So if you were planning on heading there, feel free to babymoon away.