Canada implements cruise restriction

Alaska cruises from Seattle must call in Victoria, B.C., in accordance with U.S. cabotage laws.
Alaska cruises from Seattle must call in Victoria, B.C., in accordance with U.S. cabotage laws.

Canada’s government will restrict cruise ships with more than 500 passengers from calling at its ports until at least July 1, delaying the start of the Alaska cruise season for most large ship lines.

The decision will impact Alaska cruises from Seattle that have to call in Victoria, B.C., in accordance with U.S. cabotage laws requiring foreign-flagged ships sailing from U.S. ports to call in a foreign port before returning to the U.S.

Small-ship lines that operate in Alaska with U.S.-flagged ships such as Lindblad Expeditions, Alaska Dream Cruises, Uncruise Adventures and American Cruise Lines will not be impacted.

The restriction won’t impact Canada/New England cruise itineraries, as that season starts after July 1.

More than 140 cruise ships from 10 countries docked in Canada last year, Canada said, bringing at least 2 million travellers to the country. The country also deferred all cruise vessel calls in the Canadian Arctic for the entire cruise season this year, citing the limited public health capacity in Canada’s Northern communities.

Canada’s chief public health officer has already issued a health advisory recommending that Canadians avoid going on cruise ships.

“There is no immediate solution to allow cruise ships to operate in Canada while adequately containing the public health risk associated with Covid-19, other than delaying the start of the cruise ship season,” said Canada Minister of Transport Marc Garneau. “We do not take these decisions lightly and will continue to reassess as the situation evolves.”

Tour operators ‘closely monitoring’ coronavirus impact on Europe

Image result for map of Corona virus in Europe

The map above shows the affected areas.

Tour operators are braced to react to travel restrictions as the impact of coronavirus spreads across Europe.

Fears the virus, which has caused the deaths of more than 2,600 people in China, was becoming a pandemic heightened with 80,000 cases worldwide.

More than 20 deaths had been confirmed from 1,200 cases outside of China on Tuesday night. Eleven were in Italy, which had 323 cases – the largest number in Europe, and where more than 50,000 people were quarantined in 11 towns in the Lombardy and Veneto regions, home to Milan and Venice.

Austria, Croatia, Spain, Switzerland and Algeria said new cases involved people who had been to Italy.

The Foreign Office last night advised against “all but essential travel” to the 11 towns in northern Italy.

The chief medical officer Chris Whitty said people with underlying health conditions might want to rethink travel plans for northern Italy but added that it was reasonable for anyone else to go because “there’s nothing in this world where there isn’t risk”.

He told The Times: “We’re not recommending changing travel advice for Italy at this point.”

A hotel in Tenerife was quarantined after an Italian tourist who had coronavirus had been identified on the island. About 1,000 guests at H10 Costa Adeje Palace were placed on lock-down. Jet2holidays stopped sales to the hotel after it was placed under quarantine, with holidaymakers due to stay at the property transferred to other accommodation.

Consumer group Which? warned that a lack of clarity was creating confusion for travellers. Insurance companies will only payout on a cancelled trip if the FCO has advised against travel to that area.

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Tour operators, including Kuoni, Cosmos and Titan Travel, said they were keeping a close eye on developments in Italy and monitoring Foreign Office advice in case of warnings against travel.

Exodus Travels said no one was affected on its current trips in Italy and nearby Austria.

A spokesperson said: “At present, all itineraries are scheduled to operate as normal, however, they are in constant contact with their trusted operators that work in all affected countries, and will monitor the situation closely.

“As always, Exodus Travels works hard to ensure the safety of their staff and customers at all times.

Newmarket Holidays starts its Italy tours in April. Chief operating officer David Sharman said the operator was “monitoring the situation extremely closely”.

He added: “As with all incidents that impact on travel we follow Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) as a source of good practice, with our customers’ health and wellbeing our top priority.”

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A school in Northwich closed for the week after students returned from a ski trip in Italy and another, in Nantwich, shut its sixth form.

Agents were fielding questions from concerned customers “instantly”, said Miles Morgan Travel chairman Miles Morgan, who added: “24/7 news coverage means clients become 24/7. As the operators say, it goes on the FCO advice – but agents can shine by answering our clients’ questions.”

Louise Thomas, of Tailor Made Travel, said: “The phone was ringing quite heavily this morning. It’s difficult to anticipate the outcome.”

Greek airline Aegean waived rebooking fees for passengers due to travel until March 20 across its network.

“Also be advised that our company will continue its regular flight schedule to all destinations, including Italy, until further notice,” the carrier added. “Naturally, we will continue to cooperate with the relevant authorities for any further steps that may be required.”

Thailand turns Westerdam Away

The Westerdam, pictured above, has also been turned away by the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan. Its owner Holland America Line says there are no coronavirus cases on-board

Thailand becomes the latest country to turn away Westerdam cruise ship as it bars passengers from disembarking despite no cases of coronavirus on board

The Westerdam, pictured above, has also been turned away by the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan. Its owner Holland America Line says there are no coronavirus cases on-board.

There are more than 43,000 coronavirus cases declared in the world so far and 1,018 deaths
There are more than 43,000 coronavirus cases declared in the world so far and 1,018 deaths

The chief of the Department of Disease Control Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai said Tuesday that the Public Health Ministry had rejected a request from the crew of the MS Westerdam to dock at Laem Chabang in eastern Thailand.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chano-cha confirmed the ban but said Thailand was looking a way to give humanitarian assistance and will be able to provide the ship with necessities such as fuel and food.

The Westerdam began its cruise on January 16 in Singapore. Shipowner Holland America Line says there are no known cases of the virus on board.

Thai Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakulhad indicated on his Facebook page several hours before the official announcement that the ship would be denied entry.

The Westerdam, shown by the yellow ship, is currently rounding the bottom of Vietname and heading towards Thailand

The Westerdam, shown by the yellow ship, is currently rounding the bottom of Vietnam and heading towards Thailand

He posted his declaration after Holland America announced it was sailing to Laem Chabang, where passengers would disembark on February 13 to take flights home from Bangkok. The announcement by the shipowner attracted much attention among Thai social media users.

Holland America had already announced that passengers would receive a complete refund. It said a scheduled departure of the Westerdam on Feb. 15 from Yokohama had been cancelled and planned departures after Feb. 28 were being assessed.