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Launch of Costa's First LNG-Powered Cruise Ship Delayed
Costa Cruise Ship Cleared to Sail After Suspected Coronavirus Diagnosed as Flu
Civitavecchia, Italy (Photo: Tudoran Andrei/Shutterstock)

Costa Cruise Ship Cleared to Sail After Suspected Coronavirus Diagnosed as Flu

Costa Cruise Ship Cleared to Sail After Suspected Coronavirus Diagnosed as Flu
Civitavecchia, Italy (Photo: Tudoran Andrei/Shutterstock)

January 30, 2020

Dori Saltzman
Contributor
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(Update, 4:50 p.m. EDT) -- In an official statement, Carnival Corp., which operates Costa Cruises, said Italian health officials have diagnosed the quarantined woman with the common flu. The ship will skip the port of La Spezia, scheduled for Friday, and will remain docked at Civitavecchia until Friday, and then leave at 6 p.m. local time for Savona, thus resuming its regular cruise program.

"Guests who should have disembarked January 30 can either disembark or remain on board overnight, at their discretion," the statement said. "All guests scheduled to embark January 30 will be accommodated in hotels near the port and embark on January 31."

(Update, 2:55 p.m. EDT) -- Passengers on Costa Smeralda have been allowed back into their cabins, according to Mike Louagie, a freelance cruise writer and photographer, who is currently onboard the ship. Louagie told Cruise Critic that the captain is keeping all onboard informed as often as possible, but there is still no timeline on when the results of the medical test will be known.

Louagie also said they were informed that cruisers who were scheduled to get on Smeralda today have been put up in hotels in Civitavecchia.

(9:30 a.m. EDT) -- Fears over coronavirus, which has already sparked cruise cancellations in several Asia ports, have caused a cruise ship to be held in Civitavecchia, the port that serves Rome.

Costa Smeralda -- Costa Cruises' new 6,554-passenger ship, which launched in late 2019 -- has been undergoing health protocols and procedures since the suspected case, involving a 54-year-old Chinese woman from Macau who presented fever and respiratory symptoms, arose on January 29.

A statement released from Costa Cruises January 30 gave these details:

"A 54-year-old female Chinese national from Macau was placed in isolation in Costa Smeralda's shipboard hospital last night along with her traveling companion, in accordance with health protocols.

"As soon as the suspected case was detected, the medical team on board immediately activated all the relevant health procedures to promptly isolate and manage clinical conditions.

"The local health authority was immediately notified and is now on board to conduct all the pertinent measures. 

"It is our utmost priority to ensure the health and safety of passengers and crew. The Company is at complete disposal of the health authority and their indication will be strictly applied. Costa Cruises continues to apply relevant national policies and epidemic protocols, as per World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indications.”

According to multiple media reports and passengers who have been tweeting, the ship, which arrived this morning in Civitavecchia, a port city northwest of Rome, has been ordered to remain in place, and passengers are not being permitted to leave the vessel. Photos allegedly taken onboard showed passengers sitting around with hats and coats, many with suitcases looking to disembark.

More than 1,100 passengers were scheduled to leave this morning, with another 1,112 cruisers embarking on the next sailing. The ship was scheduled to depart at 7 p.m. local time, heading to La Spezia, Italy.

Costa Cruises, which is owned by Carnival Corp., is an Italian line that carries an international passenger base. Unlike cruises in the United States, it's not unusual for passengers to board and get off the ship in different ports from one another. Many of the passengers who are not finishing their cruise in Civitavecchia had tours of Rome scheduled for today; some of these passengers are reporting on various social media platforms that those tours have been canceled.

Some cruise lines, including Oceania and Norwegian, have implemented a policy denying boarding to guests who have visited mainland China in the past 30 days, giving them a refund for the cruise with proof of travel. The policy doesn't cover passengers coming from Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan, however.

Coronavirus symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. According to the CDC, the symptoms can occur two days to two weeks after exposure. Not all cases of coronavirus are severe, and some people with the virus might not even know they have it.

Cruise Critic is following this breaking story.

For more, read Coronavirus: What Cruisers Need to Know and Live From Hong Kong: Coping With The Coronavirus on a Cruise.

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