It’s no secret that the threat of coronavirus is sweeping the nation, leaving its giant mark on the travel industry. Not helping the situation is that it seems like everyday there’s something different in the news, leaving Americans more confused than ever. Is the flu worse? Is it not as big a threat as we think it is? It seems as though we’re getting conflicting answers to these questions (and other questions like them), which is leaving us less than confident to continue with our travel plans.
Like millions of American families, my family has plans to travel for Spring Break in the month of March. We’re planning on taking our second Disney Cruise on the Disney Dream, something we’ve been looking forward to for months. Needless to say, the coronavirus is something my husband and I have begun monitoring on a daily basis. As of right now, we’re confident in our decision to go ahead with our cruise. If this were any other cruise line, we might be making a different decision. But this is Disney Cruise Line, and here’s why we’re confident in sticking with our Spring Break plans to cruise with Disney.
When it comes to Disney Cruise Line, maintaining the gold standard in cleanliness is paramount. From top to bottom, every surface on a Disney cruise ship is impeccably clean, and something other cruise lines aspire to obtain. Even before the threat of coronavirus, Disney Cruise Line was making sure all guest took part of small, everyday routines, that ensure a safe and healthy environment on ship. Upon entering restaurants and buffets and when returning to the ship after a port day, you are handed antibacterial wipes to clean your hands. There are hand sanitizing stations throughout the ship as well. All public restrooms on the ship have Cast Members whose sole purpose is to make sure the bathrooms are maintained and kept in accordance with Disney Cruise Line’s high standards of cleanliness. Not once during our previous 4-night cruise did I find so much as crumpled up napkin on the floor or even a drop of water on the counters. Everything was meticulously maintained.
When it comes your children, Disney Cruise Line takes their level of cleanliness to infinity and beyond. Several times a day, the pool decks and Nemo’s Splash Pad area were constantly being maintained and cleaned. The Oceaneer’s Club, Disney Cruise’s kids club for ages 3-12, features a state of the art hand washing machine (see above video). No seriously, this machine is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. When kids enter and exit, they are encouraged to wash their hands. Soap dispenses and kids are asked to put their hands into a hand washing machine that does the work for them. They’re washing the germs away, as parents wash a few more cares away.
As your Disney Cruise Line vacation gets closer, Disney Cruise will begin to communicate with you via email. You’ll be notified about things like what to do when you get to the port, boarding procedures, etc. In the past few weeks, Disney Cruise has communicated even more than usual. They’re constantly updating their future guests with the procedures set in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus and to make sure they maintain they’re already high standards when it comes to cleanliness. The simple act of communicating alone, gives me a feeling that they’re taking this seriously and further proves that the health of their guests remains a top priority.
I received an email yesterday from them, explaining some of the updates that have taken place to their boarding policies. As of right now, this is the plan Disney Cruise Line is implementing:
- Any guest or crew member who has traveled from, to or through China, including Hong Kong and Macau, South Korea, Italy, Iran or Japan, within 14 days of their sailing’s departure will not be able to board our ships.
- Any guest who has been in contact with someone from these areas, including guests with connecting flights in these locations, also will not be able to board, nor will anyone who has helped care for someone suspected or diagnosed with coronavirus, or who is currently subject to health monitoring for possible exposure. Guests who have air travel booked through Disney Cruise Line will automatically have their flights rebooked on an alternate route. Guests who booked their own air travel arrangements should contact their airlines directly to make the appropriate changes.
- As is always our practice, we screen all guests before they board and anyone who feels unwell with gastrointestinal or flu-like symptoms (fever over 100.4º F, chills, cough or difficulty breathing) will not be permitted to sail.
- If your cruise includes a stop in Nassau or Castaway Cay, please note that The Bahamas will not allow anyone to disembark in any Bahamian port if they have been to China in the past 20 days prior to arrival. These guests may be able to sail but will be unable to visit The Bahamas.
- If your cruise includes a stop in Jamaica, please note that in addition to the locations noted above, officials there also will not allow guests who have visited Singapore within 14 days of arrival to come ashore. These guests may be able to sail but will be unable to visit Jamaica.
Disney Cruise Line consistently receives among the highest public health inspection scores and has rigorous sanitation standards. In the past few months, the CDC has performed surprise inspections on every Disney cruise ship. As expected, Disney Cruise Line received top scores. The Dream and the Wonder each received a perfect score of 100. The Fantasy received a score of 94 and the Magic received a score of 96. According to the CDC, anything scoring an 85 or below is unsatisfactory. If my words fall on deaf ears, at least the numbers received from the CDC will serve as back-up that there’s no cleaner ships in the world than those in the Disney Cruise Line fleet.
Disney Cruise Line also has a comprehensive plan that outlines protocols for managing illness and closely follow the guidance of public health officials. Some of these procedures include:
- Training for all of our crew members on how best to prevent the spread of illness on board.
- A health questionnaire completed by all guests and crew members to screen for illness before they board the ship.
- Extensive cleaning and sanitation of high-traffic areas (e.g., handrails, doorknobs and elevator buttons) and children’s facilities.
- Comprehensive cleaning of all staterooms twice a day, and additional disinfection when necessary.
- Medical clinics on our ships staffed with experienced doctors and nurses and stocked with supplies and medications to treat a variety of illnesses.
As is the case on land, as it is at sea, Disney Cruise Line and their Cast Members can only do so much- it’s up to us to do the rest. Whether you’re on a cruise or at the theme parks, here are a few things you can do to help prevent this virus from spreading:
- According to public health authorities, you also help prevent the spread of illness by frequently washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the restroom and before eating.
- Parents can supervise their children to ensure they wash their hands thoroughly. In addition, Disney Cruise Line has sanitation wipes conveniently available in multiple places on its ships, including entrances to dining areas.
- Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue (or with your upper sleeve) when sneezing, and avoiding sneezing or coughing into your hands or without covering your nose and mouth, is recommended.
As you can see, Disney Cruise Line is doing their part in assuring its future guests that their ships continue to be a clean and safe environment. That being said, we aren’t set to cruise for another 3 weeks and a lot can change in that time. But I’m confident and I trust in Disney. Just like with their theme parks, Disney Cruise Line will continue to monitor the virus and the lines of communication will remain open between them and their guests. For all of the reasons above, we will continue with our Spring Break plans and take that Disney Cruise.
If you have any questions regarding your travel plans, contact my friends at Academy Travel.
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