Hundreds of nervous passengers set sail from Tampa amidst Coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As passengers set sail on Thursday from Port Tampa Bay, the Coronavirus outbreak was definitely on their radar.

Taking a cruise, many tell us, means taking a risk.

The epidemic is popping up on cruises around the world, forcing ships to stay at sea – often full of sick people and unable to return to port.

So, how did folks feel about boarding a ship for this weekend’s cruise? Would spending time on the high seas create high risk?

“To me, it all boils down to cleanliness. Wash your hands, do a fist bump or an elbow bump. It really is all about cleanliness,” said Lakeisha Erwin.

8 on Your Side has learned the Cruise Line International Association has added safety guidelines for all cruises, screening each and every person prior to boarding.

Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Holland American Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean, which use Port Tampa Bay, are part of CLIA and the new regulations.

Passengers are not allowed to cruise if they’ve traveled through airports in China, South Korea, Iran or parts of Italy in the last two weeks. Passengers are also not allowed on the ship if they are currently being monitored for the virus or have been in contact with someone diagnosed within the past 14 days.

Christy Paulsen, from Wisconsin, was leaving on a cruise from Tampa with her children and tells 8 on Your Side she’s not overly concerned.

“We will do what we normally do,” Paulsen said. “We fight off influenza every year. We will do the same with Coronavirus.”

Officials with each cruise line have assured the public that the staff onboard each ship is keeping in close contact with health officials onshore, constantly monitoring the status of all passengers.

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