CDC says because of coronavirus everyone should avoid cruise ships. Here's what you need to know

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all people avoid traveling on cruise ships, not just the most at-risk for the coronavirus. Cruise lines have paused their operations for at least 30 days.

Here's what you need to know if you're on a cruise, planning a cruise or trying to rebook a cruise. 

What has happened to cruising in the United States?

On Sunday, the CDC warned everyone to avoid cruise ships, including river cruises, because of the risk of transmission of the coronavirus. Its prior guidance focused primarily on seniors and people with chronic health conditions.

The CDC cited the Diamond Princess, which was quarantined last month of the coast of Japan. More than 700 passengers became infected, including 46 Americans. Eight Diamond Princess passengers have died. 

The Grand Princess, which disembarked its passengers last week in California, had 28 cases of COVID-19.

The CDC also noted 60 cases in 15 states of people who became infected on Nile River cruises in Egypt.

Major cruise lines including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Celebrity suspended sailing operations to and from U.S. ports for 30 days because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cruise Lines International Association, a trade group, announced Friday.

“CLIA cruise line members are voluntarily and temporarily suspending operations from the U.S. as we work to address this public health crisis,” said Kelly Craighead, CLIA president and CEO in a statement. “This is an unprecedented situation."

Viking announced similar measures Wednesday. Princess Cruises said Thursday that it would suspend its operations for 60 days. Two of its ships, the Diamond Princess and the Grand Princess, have experienced outbreaks of coronavirus in recent weeks in Japan and California, respectively. Disney Cruises suspended its operations Friday.

I'm on a cruise now. What's going to happen?

Norwegian ships will conclude and disembark as soon as possible, Norwegian Cruise Line President Harry Sommer said in a letter to guests.

Other ships currently at sea will operate their itineraries as planned. Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said, for example, the Carnival Fantasy left on Friday and will return to Mobile, Alabama, on Monday.

Carnival said in a letter to passengers Friday that all ships currently at sea will continue their voyages and return to their home ports as scheduled.

Celebrity Cruise ships that left U.S. ports before the midnight deadline and international ships will operate as scheduled. U.S. ships currently at sea will continue on schedule.

Royal Caribbean said it would conclude its sailings as scheduled.

I was supposed to go on a cruise. Will I get a refund?

Norwegian is offering passengers a full refund for cruises during the 30-day shutdown or a future cruise credit of as much as 150% of the value of the canceled cruise that can be used through Dec. 31, 2022. 

Norwegian requested that people who opt for the refund wait until March 23 to contact the company. Refunds will be credited within 90 days, the company said. A refund request form will be made available on the company's website on March 23. 

Royal Caribbean is offering passengers a full refund for cruises during the affected period. Passengers have until Dec. 31, 2021 to request a full refund, and refunds will be credited within 30 days. Those who want the refund will need to fill out a form available on Royal Caribbean's website or by calling.

Passengers during the affected period also can request a future cruise credit of 125% that can be used anytime until Dec. 31, 2021. Passengers who request the credit will receive it by email on April 13.

Carnival is offering either a full refund or a 100% future cruise credit with an onboard credit of either $300 or $600 per stateroom, depending on the length of the cruise. Passengers have until Dec. 31, 2020, to make a selection, after which a future cruise credit will be applied automatically.

Future cruises must be taken before Dec. 31, 2022.

Princess, which has been most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, is offering refunds and future cruise credits to passengers who booked and completed payment on or after Feb. 4. Future cruise credits can be used on any sailing through May 1, 2022.

Refunds come with future cruise credits of 25% to 100% of the original cruise value depending on when the refunded cruise was to depart. Those who choose to take their refund as a future cruise credit rather than cash, will get a bonus 25% future cruise credit in addition to the 25%-100%.

Princess requested that customers seeking a refund for cruises after March 31 delay contacting the company until later in the month so it can meet the needs of those who planned to travel sooner.

Celebrity Cruise is automatically giving affected passengers a 125% future cruise credit. Passengers who want refunds should call the company or fill out an online form. Future cruise credits must be used by Dec. 31, 2021.

Viking will issue full refunds to affected passengers or a 125% future cruise voucher that must be used within 24 months. Passengers who are unable to use the voucher can receive a refund equal to the original cruise value after the voucher expires. Vouchers will be fully transferable, the company said.

Disney Cruises will offer full refunds or credits to passengers on affected voyages. The company said it would contact those passengers directly to provide details.

When can I book a cruise again?

As of now, the 30-day moratorium on cruises ends on April 10. Norwegian plans to resume embarkations on April 12. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises will resume sailing on April 11. 

Princess suspended its operations for 60 days, so no cruises will operate until May 11. Viking will resume its operations on May 1.

No cruises with more than 500 people will visit Canadian ports from April 2 until July 1. Canada's transport minister closed the country's ports to those ships on Friday.

Have more questions? Email

Contributing: Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY

A passenger (L) disembarks from the Diamond Princess cruise ship - in quarantine due to fears of the new COVID-19 coronavirus - at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama on February 19, 2020.