What would happen if you hadn’t set foot in China for 10 years, live in sunny California and wanted to go on a long awaited cruise, but have a Chinese, Hong Kong or Macau based passport? Answer: you’d be denied from boarding a Royal Caribbean cruise, at least for now. While flights have been cut from many reaches of the globe, no travel brand has gone as far as to discriminate against one group, based purely on the origin of their passport, and not just their residency or proximity to the outbreak.
The question is: are travel brands, or countries going too far in handling Coronavirus?
For Royal Caribbean, it’s hard not to say a resounding “yes”. Here’s their new policy…
“Until further notice, all ships in the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. fleet will adopt the following health screening protocols:
1. Regardless of nationality, we will deny boarding to:
a. Any guest who has travelled from, to or through mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau in the past 15 days.
b. Any guest who has come in contact with anyone from mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau in the past 15 days. The CDC characterizes contact with an individual as coming within six feet (2M) of a person.
c. All holders of China, Hong Kong and Macau passports.”
Playing devils advocate, rules a, b seem fair enough and somewhat in line with quarantine and other policies from governments and airlines abroad, if not a bit o-t-t (over the top). Rule c however, I find appalling.
Unfortunately, Crystal Cruises has also followed with an identical policy.
Citizenship for any given country can entail an incredibly lengthy process, and it’s possible for someone to be as American as apple pie, as British as a cup of tea or as Japanese as tempura while not yet holding a passport for that country, on account of a lengthy process to citizenship. Basically, having a passport from Hong Kong, Macau or China hardly means that you’re an inherent threat for Coronavirus.
Perhaps someone moved from Hong Kong to the United States 8 years ago and haven’t set foot in Asia since. In the eyes of Royal Caribbean, through their updated policy, they’re now persona non-grata until further notice. It’s blanket discrimination against all Chinese, Hong Kong and Macau based passport holders beyond any and all reasonable merit or fear for safety.
Royal Caribbean is the first travel brand to go off the deep end – no pun intended – with their policy, but countries themselves were amongst the first to set unfortunate precedents with travel bans that extend beyond reasonable remit. From extreme quarantines to travel bans on certain nationalities, there’s a fine line between health concern and xenophobia.
Stopping the spread of Coronavirus is a vital global concern; and one of incredibly high stakes, but this seems like a step too far. There’s nothing royal or dignified about this move from the cruiseliner.