Chinese cruise lines skip calls in South Korea as passengers cancel plans to sail amid an outbreak of the deadly MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). Shanghai's the Paper reported that the lines are instead adding a visit to Japan to their itineraries.
A charter secured by Ctrip online travel agency on Sapphire Princess, scheduled for 27 June, was confirmed to have changed itinerary. The initial route included stops in Jeju and Busan, which have been replaced by Okinawa.
Some lines navigating Jeju-Japan route or traveling to Jeju have not altered their itineraries, mainly because MERS cases in South Korea are concentrated in Seoul. Jeju is an island off the southern South Korea's coast. According to a travel agent, it has not been affected.
Several cruise operators have issued announcements outlining the measures they have taken to cope with the outbreak. Royal Caribbean said the company would not allow travelers from MERS-affected countries or people who have visited these countries during the past 30 days to board line's ships.
SkySea Holding International (co-founded by Ctrip) and Princess Cruises, stated they would strengthen health checks for passengers and crew members.
As of Tuesday, June 9, 95 cases have been reported in South Korea, including 7 fatalities. There's been one case in China, concerning a Korean man who traveled to Guangdong province from Seoul.