Royal Caribbean Halts Korean Calls Following Outbreak

Quantum of the Seas

Published Jun 12, 2015 3:59 PM by The Maritime Executive

Royal Caribbean has stopped calls to South Korean ports following the outbreak of a severe respiratory infection in the Asian country. 

The cruise line announced that four of its vessels will cancel stops until South Korea can contain a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak that has killed 13 and infected 126. Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas and SkySea Golden Era were all diverted away from South Korea this week. Passengers onboard the affected ships will be offered either an extra day at sea or a stop at an alternative port.

South Korean ports have also launched quarantine procedures for ships arriving from the Middle East and elsewhere.

MERS is a respiratory condition whose symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath. In extreme cases it can prove fatal by causing respiratory and organ failure. The South Korea outbreak is the largest outside Saudi Arabia, where the disease was first discovered in 2012. Reports of the infection have caused thousands of school closures and has stirred fears in Asia of a repeat of a 2002-2003 scare when Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) killed about 800 people worldwide.

The outbreak is not thought to be airborne, but is instead spread by close contact. The CDC said that it does not recommend anyone changing their travel plans because of MERS.

Royal Carribean has stated that it is continuing to monitor the situation in South Korea. It is also taken preventative measures to screen passengers that are sailing near the affected areas.