Cruise passengers set sail with hopes of picking up a tan, not a virus

Just a day after the government warned against taking cruises because of the COVID-19 coronavirus, passengers boarded the Carnival Paradise in Tampa, bound for the Caribbean. 

“I’m an elementary school teacher, so we’re prone to washing our hands all the time anyway,” laughed passenger Lauren Harrington. “We bought Lysol wipes and Germ-X.”

Workers at the port told us the number of passengers appeared to be about normal for the sailing of the Paradise. Many we talked with were college students on spring break.

“I’m not scared about getting sick,” said University of Tampa student Katie Conroy. “I think I’m getting more scared about being quarantined at sea.”

Several cruise lines, including Carnival, are relaxing rules on rescheduling cruises.

“A lot of cruise lines are waving their rebooking fees,” said Mark Jenkins, a spokesman for AAA. “Some people are rescheduling them for the summertime, in the fall, or this time next year.”

Carnival rewarded passengers who didn’t reschedule their cruises with $100 to $200 worth of drinks or services per cabin. 

If you feel sick

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Questions may also be emailed to covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 websiteCORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know

Map of all known COVID-19 cases

MOBILE APP USERS: Click here for map