In Miami, which is considered the world capital of cruises, there is no longer the typical picture of the pier where people say goodbye to those who go on vacation in gigantic floating hotels. Only a few security guards can now be seen looking bored at their watch.
The global crisis generated by the COVID-19 disease, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), weighs down cruise lines after the official recommendation to “avoid” this type of travel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the top US health regulatory body, noted that given “the unusual nature” of the coronavirus, older people, and especially those with pre-existing diseases, are the ones who should take the most care of themselves.
This was noted by the CDC after recent events such as that of the cruise ship the Grand Princess, in which 21 infected were detected, some of them members of the crew.
Health authorities reiterated that people with diseases of the heart, lung or any other that causes the immune system to weaken are those who are most at risk if they become infected.
On Wednesday, the Princess Cruises division, which suffered outbreaks of the new coronavirus at sea, announced that it will pause the global operations of its 18 cruises due to the COVID-19 outbreak from this Thursday until May 10.
Jan Swartz, president of this subsidiary of Carnival Corporation, said in a statement:
“By taking this bold action of voluntarily pausing the operations of our ships, it is our intention to reassure our loyal guests, team members and global stakeholders of our commitment to the health, safety and well-being of all who sail with us, as well like those who do business with us, and the countries and communities we visit around the world. “
The California-based cruise line has reported cases of the virus on two of its ships, the Grand Princess and the Diamond Princess, one of which carried around 3,000 passengers.
Of the dozens of cruise ships that usually dock at PortMiami, on Wednesday there were only two of these vessels patiently waiting for their passengers.
Port authorities, however, said in a statement on Monday that at the moment “no cruise ship has been prevented from entering the city” by the virus, something that did occur by order of the CDC with at least two tourist boats. at the nearby Fort Lauderdale terminal and north of Miami.
“We are working on preventive measures to safeguard the health of port workers, partners, crew members and passengers in Miami-Dade County,” the port statement said.
In addition, all ships and terminals are being disinfected as a preventive measure, and each cruise line must follow a protocol that tests both crew members and passengers.
In recent days, operators such as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian have seen their market value plummet, hence this sector is one of the most affected by the pandemic.
Just a week ago, Royal Caribbean was quoted at nearly $ 80 a share, while it is currently down to $ 43.
Similarly, Norwegian Cruise Line in the same period of time has lost almost half its value (from $ 33 per share to $ 15.42).
After some countries such as the Principality of Monaco have prohibited cruise stops until April 30, due to their inability to assist “a large number of infected people”, and the WHO has declared the new coronavirus as a pandemic, the The future of this industry is presented as a mystery.
The Florida Department of Health reported Wednesday on six new cases in the state and the first in Miami-Dade County, a 56-year-old man who is stable and recently traveled to Iran.
Florida health authorities count 35 positive cases of COVID-19, among residents, returnees and non-residents of the state. Also, this Thursday the state entity reported that 147 people were pending the test results.
One in three cases of contagion in Florida comes from a cruise ship that traveled the Nile, the state governor, Ron DeSantis, and the mayor of Miami-Dade, Carlos Giménez, detailed at the joint press conference Thursday.
Alberto Domingo Carreiro