Would You Take a Cruise During a Coronavirus Outbreak?

At the world’s busiest cruise port, thousands of vacationers paid little heed to a government warning that Americans should avoid setting sail on the massive ships.

Passengers lined up at Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.’s Miami terminal Monday to board the Norwegian Sky, with few expressing concerns about contracting the new coronavirus that’s infected more than 113,000 people worldwide.

Michelle Yaminitsky, a 20-year-old student at North Carolina State University, and three of her friends booked a five-day cruise to the Bahamas two months ago for their spring break vacation. Norwegian had offered them a credit to sail at a later date, but this was the only time they could all go together.

“We definitely heard a lot of criticism for going on it,” Yaminitsky said. “But we decided if we sanitize, it will be fine.”

The coronavirus has been stressing health systems around the world, pressuring economies and battering stock markets. Cruise lines have been slammed after more than 700 people on a Princess ship tested positive near Japan, while another that docked in California Monday had at least 21 cases. The U.S. State Department warned that citizens should avoid taking cruises, particularly those with underlying health conditions.

Carnival Corp. shares tumbled 20% amid a market rout on Monday, while Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. slid 26% and Norwegian plunged 27%. In less than two months, the three U.S.-based operators have lost about $47 billion in market value.

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