Passengers to be screened for flu before boarding


Scratchy throat, scratched cruise? Not necessarily – but if you have flu-like symptoms before you board, cruise lines want to know about it.

According to new guidelines announced Friday by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), whose 24 member lines include Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL, all passengers will be required to complete and sign a written health questionnaire before boarding a member cruise ship anywhere in the world.

Passengers who report flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat, or who have had contact with a confirmed Influenza A (H1N1) case, will get a secondary screening – with cruise line medical personnel making a “case by case” decision on whether they’ll be allowed to board, based on Centers for Disease Control guidelines. (Carnival’s website adds that after such additional screening, “anyone who has an illness of international public health concern will not be permitted to sail.”) Passengers and crew who develop flu symptoms during the cruise will be isolated and treated, CLIA says; member lines will be stocked with anti-viral medications effective in treating the flu.

According to CLIA, the enhanced screenings aren’t unprecedented: The industry launched similar precautions during the 2003 SARS outbreak in Asia, and passengers are already questioned about Norovirus symptoms before boarding, though not on a routine basis.