TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The US State Department is warning travelers, especially those with underlying health conditions, to not travel by cruise ship.

According to the department’s website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes an increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment.

In order to help stop the spread of coronavirus, many countries have implemented a strict screening procedure, which has denied port entry rights to ships and prevented passengers from disembarking.

The US State Department said that while the US government has evacuated some cruise ship passengers in recent weeks, repatriation flights should not be relied upon as an option for U.S. citizens under the potential risk of quarantine by local authorities.

The CDC notes that older adults and travelers with underlying health issues should avoid situations that put them at increased risk for more severe disease, which includes avoiding crowded places, avoiding non-essential travel, and avoiding embarking on cruise ships.

“If you have a chronic issue and you’re immune system is compromised, you ought to really stop and think about should you be going on a cruise ship, should you be flying, where should you be. That’s why I believe the more we can tell the public about the types of people what issues they’re dealing with than it will resonate with people,” said Senator Rick Scott during a visit to Port Tampa Bay on Sunday.

The latest warning is sure to have a major impact on the cruise industry. Port Tampa Bay reports more than 1 million passengers in 2019.

If you do choose to travel, the US State Department recommends you do the following things:

  • Research your destination to learn about important health and safety precautions to take.
  • Check their country information for the countries you will be visiting.
  • Make a list of the contact information of the U.S. embassy and consulates in case of an emergency.
  • Sign up for our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive important safety and security information.
  • Have medical, emergency evacuation, and other insurance to cover unexpected travel expenses when abroad. Check with your cruise line, travel agency, health/homeowner’s insurance providers, credit card companies, and other sources to learn what they do and do not cover overseas.
  • Have a plan for returning home if you are removed from the ship and placed into quarantine

If you are thinking about traveling:

  • Check with your doctor to see if you are medically safe
  • Check with the foreign country’s embassy in the United States to make sure all your medications (both prescription and over-the-counter) are legal in each country you visit and whether there are limits on the quantity or other special instructions for bringing them in.
  • Ensure you have enough of your prescription medications to last a week beyond your trip dates, in case of possible delays.

For more information, click here.