Costa Rica will not receive a pair of cruise ships that planned stops in the Pacific city of Puntarenas as their operators adjust itineraries amid the coronavirus epidemic.
A report from the daily La Nación, citing the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT), says the ships Asuka II and Ocean Dream won’t arrive here due to COVID-19.
Asuka II is the largest cruise ship flying the Japanese flag, according to its operator, NYK Cruises Co. Ltd. With a capacity for 872 passengers, it was scheduled for a world cruise departing Japan on April 2 with a June stop in Costa Rica.
NYK Cruises “will cancel all cruises on Asuka II scheduled to sail in March, in addition to the 103-day world cruise scheduled to depart from Japan on April 2 and return in July,” the company said.
The second cruise cancellation is the Ocean Dream — capacity 1,200 passengers — which planned its 104th global voyage from April 9 to July 23.
The U.S. State Department has warned citizens to avoid cruises.
“U.S. citizens, especially with underlying conditions, should not travel by cruise ship,” the State Department said Sunday.
Cruises “can promote the spread of respiratory viruses,” the CDC says, because they “put large numbers of people, often from countries around the world, in frequent and close contact.”
Citing data from the Pacific Port Authority (INCOP) and the Atlantic Port Authority (JAPDEVA), La Nación says Costa Rica is expecting more than 220 cruise ships during the 2019-20 season.
Still, the two cancellations evidence the impact the coronavirus epidemic is having on global travel.
And that could impact Costa Rica particularly hard. Financial analyst Nathalie Marshik said Costa Rica has “absolutely no room for error in 2020” due to its deficit, according to Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, tourism is “one of the main engines of the country’s economy,” comprising an estimated 8.2% of Costa Rica’s gross domestic product (GDP) and creating 9% of its jobs, according to the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT).
ICT has urged Costa Rican businesses in the tourism sector to ease cancellation policies. Citing travel trends from SARS and bird flu, the organization noted international tourism levels may not recover for “six to seven months.”