UPDATE: Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today announced it is temporarily suspending its port calls in Mexico. The decision was made in an abundance of caution, and allows additional time to better understand the full impact of the Swine Flu.
The suspension involves the company's Royal Caribbean Intl and Celebrity Cruises brands. Royal Caribbean has four ships currently making regularly scheduled port call in Mexico - Enchantment of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, and Mariner of the Seas. Two additional Royal Caribbean ships were scheduled to make upcoming Mexican port calls as they repositioned - Serenade of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas. Celebrity Cruises had one ship scheduled to make upcoming Mexico port calls as it repositions - Celebrity Infinity.
All but one of the affected ships will either make alternative port calls or spend additional time at sea. Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas will sail a fully revised itinerary, visiting Canada and the U.S. West Coast. The temporary suspension takes effect immediately and will be in effect for the immediate future. It will be regularly reviewed in light of any Swine Flu developments.
"Like our guests, we take all health matters seriously," said Dr. Art Diskin, chief medical officer for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "Although authorities have not raised specific concerns regarding the ports we visit in Mexico, we want to err on the side of caution. We're taking proactive steps onboard our ships to help ensure the health and well-being of our guests and crew members, and this is just one more step in that process. We apologize for the disruption these changes will cause our guests, and we appreciate their understanding."
The company has been closely monitoring Swine Flu developments and is utilizing its Influenza Prevention and Response Plans. That plan was developed by its office of Medical and Public Health in coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health experts. The plan is based on three pillars: Preparedness and Communication; Surveillance and Detection; and Response and Containment. The company's onboard activities regarding the Swine Flu include:
-- Providing guests with Swine Flu information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
-- Screening embarking guests and crew members regarding recent visits to, or travel through Mexico, contact with people ill with the Swine Flu, and for recent flu-like symptoms
-- Conducting enhanced sanitizing of all high-touch areas onboard
-- Providing hand sanitizers throughout all ships
-- Asking guests to follow the advice of medical experts regarding the best ways to help prevent the spread of flu and other illnesses - via proper and frequent hand washing, and covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
-- And, if necessary, onboard medical staff can isolate and treat guests or crew members who display flu-like symptoms, using the supply of anti-viral medications kept onboard all ships.
Additional details will be posted on the Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises consumer websites.