MIAMI — The U.S. State Department is warning U.S. citizens not to take cruises, delivering what could be a major blow to the cruise industry.
In a travel advisory issued Sunday evening, the State Department said there is an increased risk of infection of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, on cruise ships.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an equal warning, urging travelers to “defer all cruise ship travel worldwide.”
The announcement is a direct contradiction of statements made Saturday by Vice President Mike Pence, who traveled to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to reassure cruise company CEOs that cruising would continue, albeit with ramped-up screening and sanitizing.
“If you have a family member or are yourself, a senior citizen with a serious underlying health condition, this would be a good time to practice common sense and to avoid activities, including traveling on a cruise line, that might unnecessarily expose one to the coronavirus,” Pence said. “American people value our cruise line industry, it brings great joy and great entertainment value for Americans. We want to ensure Americans can continue to enjoy the opportunities of the cruise line industry.”
Pence is charged with overseeing the federal response to the coronavirus, which has infected more than 500 people in the U.S. Twenty-one people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19, including two in Florida.