PALM HARBOR, Fla. — This time of year Tammy Levent might normally be planning a trip on a nice cruise.
Not this time.
“I just can’t do it because I am not going to get stranded because you have a couple people who are ill,” she said. “I’m not saying don’t go on a cruise, I’m just saying don’t go on a cruise right now.”
That’s maybe not what you’d expect to hear from an award-winning travel adviser. But Levent isn’t alone.
While the cruise companies have not released much data, reports show travel advisers coast-to-coast are seeing a big dip in bookings during what’s normally the busiest season to book.
Some travel advisers say bookings are off by as much as 10 to 15 percent, reports the New York Times.
The president and CEO of a Miami software company that handles bookings for cruise companies told NPR they saw a 40 percent drop in the days after news of the quarantine on board the Diamond Princess first broke.
At Elite Travel in Palm Harbor, Levent says the usual three to four calls per day they would receive for cruise bookings have virtually stopped.
“Crickets for cruises,” Levent told 10News.
Levent said in a couple of cases, clients expressed hesitation about booking even if their trip was taking them nowhere near Asia, including a woman who was interested in a cruise to Hawaii.
“But because she’s going into L.A., which is coming in from China—that’s how people are thinking,” she said. “It’s just crazy—it’s a snowball effect.”
But Levent said, for the most part, it’s just trips in and around Asia that aren’t selling right now. Instead, they’re seeing increased interest in trips to Europe.
Cruises to the Mediterranean and Mexico, like the ones that come in and out of the Port of Tampa Bay, appear to be largely unaffected.
A lot of the cruise lines have already canceled or rerouted ships that would’ve made stops in mainland China.
Levent said the industry has faced crises like this before and survived.
“We’ve had mad cow, we’ve had norovirus, we’ve had Zika,” she said. “We’re so used to this in the travel industry—it’s just a cycle and we have to wait for it to end.”