Pearls before swine flu: Now you can cruise the West Coast and Canada


West Coast cruise fans have long faced a choice for their cruise vacations. Fly to the East Coast, or at least Texas, to board a ship, or else generally get stuck with the same-old same-old itinerary for seven day cruises – Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan. Or cruise Alaska in the summer from Seattle or Vancouver.

Now, because of swine flu, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is offering a new seven-day cruise through June 14 from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Seattle and Victoria, British Columbia.

Other ships are altering itineraries to avoid Cozumel, but the ships sailing in the Caribbean ships are just replacing the Mexican port with another nearby – Jamaica, Grand Cayman or the Bahamas. But this new Royal Caribbean itinerary is something completely different. And it will even include sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge.

No doubt other cruise lines are assessing the situation and may make similar moves. Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Lines are in some cases just eliminating the ports in favor of extra sea days. Of course, with passengers staying aboard ship for longer periods of time there is always the additional worry about norovirus outbreaks. Which means the number one cruising health rule again, is “wash your hands.”

The situation in Mexico may change, although Royal Caribbean says it is committed to these new itineraries. The Mexican Riviera is actually pretty warm (read “hot”) this time of year, so for those who aren’t confirmed beach and sun people, the new itineraries could actually be preferable.

  • chris

    Hey Janice: Do you know if the gov’t is waiving the Jones Act which requires that foreign flagged ships along the west coast call on foreign ports only due to swine flu? So, will those Princess ships sailing out of SF this week to Mexico be allowed to call on So Cal ports? Or just stay out at sea?

  • Shannon

    The offset to the cruise lines taking extra precautions for norovirus by adding additional “at sea” days is the additional money they make in the sea day money spent by cruisers in the casinos, ship stores, bars, alternative dining venues and spas. My last cruise had 8 days at sea and it was a real test of my frugality stamina not to spend my life savings on the ship sea day offerings! I am sure that they spent less than they made on forking over a few more happy hours with 1/2 price drinks in the Bingo parlor and several more gallons of antiseptic handwash in the Lido!

  • Janice Hough

    Hi Chris, as far as I know they are not repealing /suspending the Jones act. So for the scheduled cruises they are hightailing it to British Columbia to get their foreign port in. My sense is that cruises that have already departed have more leeway. Am checking with a cruise line where they only have two ports, ensenada and catalina, to see what they are planning.

  • Janice Hough

    Some cruise lines can avoid the Jones Act issue by making a “service stop” – for example, Carnival can go to Catalina Island, if they stop briefly in Mexico but do not let any passengers on or off the boat. That is what they are apparently doing. Norwegian Cruise Line used to have a stop at Fanning Island on one of their Hawaii sailings, it was a real port call but in bad weather they sometimes went in, stopped without disembarking anyone, and turned around.