H1N1 Flu Distrupts Cruise Itineraries

The H1N1 virus has managed to not only strike fear in the hearts of the global community, it has all but ended cruise calls to Mexico, at least for the time being.

Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and others have suspended stops at Mexican ports. Carnival has canceled sailings up through May 11, while other lines are using a wait-and-see approach.

Royal Caribbean at first said the outbreaks are inland, not nearby coastal ports. However, the company later in the day said it was, indeed, canceling port calls until more was known.

Norwegian canceled Norwegian Pearl's final two calls in Mexico; the line's Mexico schedule doesn't pick up again until September.  

Many times, itineraries are being changed with stops in Mazatlan, Cancun and Puerto Vallarta being switched out for U.S. ports such as San Diego, Santa Catalina and San Francisco. This doesn't sit well with all cruisers, who were hoping to hang out on a Cabo San Lucas beach, not Ghirardelli Square. "These places are not exotic or anything," Erin Carone, a Princess cruiser, told The Los Angeles Times. "Santa Barbara and San Diego for $700? I can go their on my own."

In some instances, passengers whose Mexico cruise was altered have only received small compensation, such as $150 onboard credits.

The cruise lines, meanwhile, are doing the right and smart thing by safeguarding their customers: itinerary alterations are only happening in the face of something out of their control. Luckily, it appears that the worst of the H1N1 fear is dying down. Many travel agencies are reporting that clients are not fearful of the new strain of flu and are even booking trips to Mexico in the near future.

According to the Associated Press, swine flu was said to have been a factor in more than 150 deaths and over 1,600 illnesses in Mexico.

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