As the number of people infected with the novel coronavirus grows in Florida, the cruise industry is increasingly being pressured to help contain the spread of the disease.
On Sunday, the U.S. State Department advised that “U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship.”
The Regal Princess, currently off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, was unable to dock until Monday because two of its crew members needed to be tested for the virus.
Though their results were later found to be negative, the pair had recently transferred from a ship in California where around two dozen people tested positive for the virus and thousands of passengers on board were quarantined.
But for some, like Miami resident Jacob Brodsky, this is a nonissue. He returned from a cruise Sunday morning, went home, repacked and was ready to leave that evening for a five-day Caribbean trip.
“Why should I be concerned?” he said. “It’s just a virus, just like so many other viruses.”
Those who work on the cruise ships said they have already noticed a decrease in the number of passengers, particularly from Italy and China. Still, a group of housekeepers from the MSC Meraviglia, on a brief onshore break before another 12-hour shift, said they feel there are enough precautions in place.
Six cruise ships left PortMiami Sunday. Another seven are scheduled for Monday. Despite the peace of mind that many passengers and crew members have about the coronavirus, it seems clear the official warning will have an impact. At this point, it’s unclear how much of a hit this vital part of the South Florida economy will take.