CDC & DCL Issue Travel Alert Due to Zika Virus in Caribbean & Latin America

Disney Cruise Line issued a travel alert on the heels of a recently issued a travel alert from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for travelers to specific countries in the Caribbean and Latin America due to the Zika virus, a mosquito related illness.

Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. While the most common symptoms are usually mild and include fever, rash, joint pain and pink eye, pregnant women should pay special attention to the travel alert and take necessary precaution to avoid mosquito bites.

The precautions recommended by the CDC are similar to those to prevent other mosquito borne illnesses like dengue fever, chikungunya, and West Nile virus and include wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants and using insect repellents containing DEET to avoid mosquito bites.

CDC Protect Yourself From Mosquito Bites

In December 2015, the first local transmission of Zika virus infection (Zika) were reported in Mexico, Puerto Rico and in the Caribbean. Local transmission means that mosquitoes in the area have been infected with Zika virus, spreading it to people. Since then, the following Caribbean countries have reported ongoing transmission of Zika:

Additional information can be found under the Travelers Health section of the CDC website at


As a result of this travel alert, guests who are pregnant may wish to modify their cruise reservation. An email will be sent to Travel Agents or Guests who have bookings that are affected by this travel alert. If a guest wishes to modify their reservation due to the Zika Virus, please call the Disney Cruise Line Contact Center for assistance at 800-939-2784 or 407-566-7000.

No additional details were provided by DCL on how they will deal with cancelation fees or if they will allow guest to rebook a different itinerary at the rate based on their original booking.

I’d like to thank for alerting us to the Zika virus travel advisory.

What can travelers do to prevent Zika?

There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites:

  • Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or IR3535. Always use as directed.
    • Pregnant and breastfeeding women can use all EPA-registered insect repellents, including DEET, according to the product label.
    • Most repellents, including DEET, can be used on children aged >2 months.
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear or treat them yourself.
  • Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.

57 thoughts on “CDC & DCL Issue Travel Alert Due to Zika Virus in Caribbean & Latin America

  1. walt

    Scott. What is DCL doing to keep the mosquitoes from entering inside the ships? While the ships are dock at the ports, being even outside the ships while onboard can be a hazard to our health. Thanks for the info Scott. This is sad because nothing can protect your whole body from being bitten by mosquitoes. I know because I tried those EPA-registered insect repellents in the south and still got bitten. Those with verandahs are more at harm of being bitten. Inside stateroom and oceanview seem ideal now and less expensive. I did not receive any info from DCL, for I have a cruise with my family coming soon. I wish I can cancel it without losing my money. SAD 🙁


      DCL did, in fact, send me an email based on the warnings of the Zika Virus during my upcoming cruise end of February.

    2. Linda

      I received a e-mail from DCL in Februrary and also just yesterday 3-16-16 in regards to the zika virus. We are going to the Bahamas, no Zika there at this time. Lets hope it stays that way.

  2. Rachel

    My Disney cruise was originally supposed to leave in two weeks from Puerto Rico. I will be 8 weeks pregnant then, and after hearing about all of the prolonged effects that Zika can have I became very nervous. I contacted Costco last night (that’s who I booked through) and they so graciously rebooked our cruise to the California Coast in May. No rebooking fee and even got the same exact room. Disney and Costco were wonderful!

    1. Yvonne

      California Coast Cruise, like to Catalina and Ensenada? I’m asking because I’m in the some predicament. I have a cruise scheduled to leave in 2 weeks – but not sure if Ensenada and Catalina fall into the “mexico” area of concern.

      1. Rachel

        Up the coast from San Diego to Vancouver. It’s still a 5 day cruise and I had to pay a bit more to get my same room with a verandah.

  3. Beth

    This doesn’t sound like a big deal unless you are pregnant or going to get pregnant. You have to use repellent with a high deet %. Nothing else really works. They have good stuff at REI.

  4. Max

    Walt, what is more important to you, your money from the cruise, or the health of your family? If you are that concerned about being bitten by a mosquito, you should cancel the cruise regardless of whether you will receive a refund.

  5. Rachel Xu

    My cruise sails in 4 days, and I’ve got two young kids. Should I cancel or rebook a different time? Mine is going to the carribean, the Grand Cayman and Castaway Cay.

    1. Scott Sanders Post author

      This is a question that only you and your family can answer. My wife and I discussed this the other day and this would not prevent us from cruising with our young daughter. However, that decision is yours and yours alone to make.

      1. Glenda LaGreca

        Hi Scott, I’ve never replied to anything on the Internet this way but I just wanted to get any kind of feedback possible.

        My grandson is 10 months old and was on a Disney Cruise on March 21-26, 2016, they traveled from Florida to Bahamas and Castaway Cay, while on the cruise, he started having diarrhea. It’s been over 3 weeks since his cruise and he is currently in Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana due to dehydration.
        After 2 weeks of diarrhea he began to run fever that has lasted for 8 days…in addition to all of that, he broke out in a rash that kept spreading until it eventually covered his whole body (scalp to feet). All of the test that the doctors have run have come back negative. So they are puzzled as to what’s wrong with him.
        I’m wondering if anyone else on that cruise are having any of the same health problems with their infants.
        Also, any prayers for Peter are welcome.
        Thank you.

        1. Nikkita O.

          I just read your message and began praying for the full recovery of your grandson. My family will continue to pray for Peter. God Bless.

    2. jenn rodriguez

      No cases In grand cayman And they are taking precautions to prevent it from entering their territory. We’re still going, leaving tomorrow.

  6. Rachel Xu

    Thanks Scott!

    We’ve decided to go after doing some research. TripAdvisor and CDC website have some good information.

  7. Brandi

    hubby and I are torn on whether to go on our march cruise. We have been trying to get pregnant for a long time now and actually have a fertility appointment today. While nassau and castaway cay aren’t on the list of affected locations yet I worry that they will be by march and my big fear is that if I get pregnant between now and then OR on our cruise and happen to get infected that it would cause harm to our long awaited baby. The CDC said that infection during the first trimester is the most worrisome. Suggestions? Should I go ahead and start trying to reschedule, wait a few weeks and see how things progress, or just chance it and be super careful?

    1. SETH

      Disney is a real dissapointnent. I had booked a cruise and my wife got pregnant. We arw supposed to bring my 3 year old and my sick Dad. Her doctor had told her not to travel even to the Bahamas. We were bummed out. Telling my 3 year old and trying to explain why we can’t see Mikey was the worst. We tried to change our trip for a year later. We don’t even want our money back. They said they can’t do it and they want us to cancel losing half our money. They said the Bahamas are safe. Who is gonna enjoy a trip thinking about if they get bitten by a mosquito they may permanetly damage their unborn child. Florida just declared a state of emergency due to Zika. What about getting bite in Port. Is Disney gonna take care of a child that gets brain damage from one of there cruises. Will it take a newspaper headline. My Pregnant Wife Got Zika and Disney Told Me It Was Safe Disney dream becoming a Disney nightmare. All Disney says Is I’m sorry I understand how you feel and I wouldn’t go either but there’s nothing I can do. What a joke it’s all about the money.

      1. Athena

        Did you have trip insurance? I am pregnant as well and our family is going on a cruise in March (to Cayman and Castaway). I plan to discuss again with my doctor at next appointment (2 weeks ago she advised to just keep an eye on the CDC website). I haven’t contacted Disney yet about possibly delaying but we did purchase trip insurance.

        1. Brandi

          I’m not sure why others are getting negative feedback but when I reached out to Disney about our upcoming March cruise they were very understanding and said they are happy to change my cruise to a different location or date. Not to mention I also have travel insurance if I wanted to cancel completely.

        2. SETH

          No I don’t have insurance. My wife wasn’t pregnant when I booked the trip. But this isn’t a normal circumstance. I would think disney would be sensitive to pregnant women at this time. How can any of us enjoy this trip with
          danger looming. It’s already in Florida you can get bitten in Port. I m really hoping disney does the right thing. I ve been calling them everyday. Really bummed out about it. The whole family was looking forward to it.
          How can we take a chance that could affect the rest of out lives. Like I said I m not even asking for money back I just wanna move the trip until after my wife’s pregnancy

        3. Kathryn

          We are in same situation. 8 weeks pregnant and set to said in March. I’m worried we won’t get our money back (family of 4) any update on your end?

      2. Sharon

        We went to St Marteen and Puerto Rico last year and we have been to Castaway Cay twice and never seen one mosquito. I’m not saying that it is safe and that you won’t get bit, but so far this has been out experience. We are going to Tortola and St Thomas in March, hoping the no mosquito trend continues.

    1. DW

      AH- I spoke to DCL and they said that they do spray for mosquitoes at Castaway. They said they have been spraying there for several years.

      1. AH

        That is interesting because we called the general cruise line number a few days ago (Monday I believe) and the operator had to put us on hold and ask around but informed that Castaway is a part of the Bahamas and it would be up to the Bahamas and their “laws” or decisions on whether to spray or not. He said as of that point they don’t. This is awesome news though, who did you talk to!?

          1. Athena

            Rachel – I see from the chain you went to Cayman as well. Did you notice any mosquitoes there? Considering not getting off the ship since we don’t have any excursions booked but considering Seven Mile Beach.

          2. Rachel Xu

            Hi Athena,

            We went to seven mile beach, didn’t notice any mosquitos. They might be there, but the weather was cool and dry.

        1. DW

          AH- I spoke to someone when calling the general DCL # 800-939-2784. We are on the Dream which is leaving today. My wife is pregnant and we had some concerns but decided to go. We have bug spray and are ready to go. The person I spoke to said that because we aren’t going to a location that the CDC lists the Zika virus to known to be on, DCL won’t give any special accommodations. They did tell me that if you are going to a known infected area, like Mexico, then they will work with you on a case by case basis if traveling with someone who is pregnant. Sounds like they will at least reschedule or change you to a different cruise. But since we are going to Nassau and Castaway, the normal cancellation policy would apply. This was from a phone call on 2/1, so I realize things can change at any time.

          1. AH

            Thanks for the info! We are on the same cruise just leaving on the 15th! As of today we would still go, just keeping an eye on it til it is our turn :). Do you mind posting how comfortable you felt after you get back?! Have fun!!

          2. DW

            AH- We had a wonderful cruise, aside from the weather on Sunday at Castaway. It was so windy we weren’t concerned about the mosquitoes. The ship docked at midnight on Saturday night, but we couldn’t get off until about 1:30 due to the high winds. My wife did use mosquito spray as an added precaution. We walked around the beach area, but didn’t see any mosquitoes because of the strong winds. Hope you enjoy your cruise!

          3. Mrs. Bennett

            The problem with Disney not being accommodating to pregnant ladies despite whether Zika threats have been issued for Bahamian cruises is that castaway cay poses a larger threat than Nassau. Cruise ships are docking every day with passengers who have cruised to risky ports (Mexico, st Thomas, etc.) and been potentially exposed to Zika. Now any mosquitos that bite them while they are on castaway are potential vectors for the virus and a danger to expectant moms and their families. My dr has told us absolutely not to go on our cruise as well and as a result of Disney refusing to budge or work with us we too lost most of our money. It’s just not worth the risk to us and as our dr stated there is too much unknown about the virus, and the links to birth defects and miscarriage is not worth taking that chance with our precious little one.

          4. AH

            Thank you so much for the update! Our dr give is the go again today and hearing this is great! Glad y’all were able to enjoy!

  8. Dr Gee

    FYI – amazon sells the permethrin-treated clothing that the CDC recommends. I bought it for my family. Our cruise leaves at the end of March (castaway and Cayman).

  9. MH

    I too was surprised and disappointed when I tried to cancel or reschedule my Bahamian cruise and was told it would not be possible without losing most of my money. I’m pregnant and my doctor advised to stay at home. Disney was not accommodating or gracious about my situation.

    1. Deanna

      My daughter didn’t know she was pregnant til she got back from cruise and now the testing and worries of even the possibility of her and her baby having Zika has so not even
      Been worth the risk and then you wouldn’t know til about 17 weeks if your baby had it or not and the worries
      Are heart breaking considering she came home with pink eye this is the grandchild and don’t take the risk if
      Pregnant or wanting to be one day

  10. S.F.

    I am surprised to read the posts about Disney not being helpful or willing to make changes to your sail dates. We called Disney and explained that we were expecting and had some concerns and they were more than willing to work with us. However, after speaking with my doctor we have decided to sail on our original dates, but take some extra precautions. We are headed on a short cruise to Bahamas and Castaway Cay and I have decided to remain on the ship when we port. This isn’t the ideal situation because we have 4 children, but it gives me some piece of mind. In fact, my children enjoy the ship so much that they decided to cancel their excursion at Atlantis and stay on the boat too. We travel with Disney Cruise Line each year and have never had any issues with them meeting any of our accommodation needs. Good Luck to you folks trying to make changes…..I would continue to call back and see if perhaps a different representative could help you. We have never ran into any roadblocks or headaches with DCL and highly recommend them! Congratulations to all the pregnant mamas on this forum! 🙂

  11. Disney2016

    I just cancel my trip last night. For those who did not purchase insurance, there’s still hope that you can get some money back for your cancellation based on how close/far away from the ship date. I got about 25% back for canceling 15 days before the ship date. Not great but at least something. Hope this helps. Had I known this sooner, I would have cancel a month or more before and would only lose my deposit which is calculated by disney.

  12. Christian

    Hi folks, I’m from Germany. My wife and I booked a 7-night western caribbean cruise starting at 30th of april 2016. may anyone know whether mosquitoes on ship at port or on the ocean.
    Will disney provide the staterooms with mosquito net or should I bring a mosquito net by myself. is a mosquito net on board necessary? Thank you…

    1. Athena

      We leave on ours today. (Going to Cayman and Castaway) not sure if these are ports on your trip m, but will post my observations when we get back.


        1. Athena

          Hi Christian. Just returned yesterday after a great trip. No nets are necessary on the boat. I only saw two bugs the entire time on the ship. (One fly while at port in Cayman out on the open deck and one gnat in our room the last day). On Cayman I did see a bug on the shuttle at port waiting to go to seven mile beach; it was either a mosquito or a gnat couldn’t tell since it flew by and didn’t see it again…it didn’t bite me. I did not see any mosquitos while on the beach in Cayman (did see a couple of flys and little black beach bugs, just the typical bugs you see). We saw no bugs at all on castaway. We walked from the ship to the family Beach area and around cookies bbq. Did not venture into the vegetation; just stuck to the main walking path. I am 20 weeks pregnant and would do it again without worry. We treated my swimsuit and coverups with permathrin and I sprayed my legs and arms with off bug spray. If you are still worried I would say just stay on the ship while at port and enjoy the pool to yourself. 🙂 Note: I saw more bugs in the 10 minutes it took getting my luggage out of the car in my driveway in Houston, Tx than the entire week on our cruise and at port. We also walked all over Miami south beach area at evening, night, and morning and saw no mosquitos. I hope you and your wife enjoy your trip!


          1. Christian

            Hi Athena, many thanks for your detailed feedback. That sounds really good and reassures me. I can hardly wait and am looking forward immensely to the cruise. I wish you and your baby all the best!!


  13. Jessica

    We just got home from our cruise on the Disney Dream, Cayman Islands and castaway cay, my husband got two mosquito bites while on castaway cay and we stayed in a cabana and enjoyed the bike trail. Ugh. Neither myself or children were bitten.

  14. babydulce

    Anyone have info or has recently been to Roatan Honduras, conzumel, costa Maya? I looked into the CDC and did some research the mayor in Honduras said that Roatan is free of Zika virus… cdc has reported cases of Zika but doesn’t specify the exact area. With the mayor of Honduras saying roatan was safe and free of the Zika I had hope of going on our cruise but now I am not too sure I am 13 weeks pregnant. My doctor said to use bug spray but I’m still concerned… Any input from anyone recently there?

  15. Aria

    We are due to sail to the Bahamas and castaway on September 19 and as of now there is no threat on the CDC for the Zika and per the Bahamas official website they do currently spray the islands but just wondering if anyone has gone to these places recently and still saw mosquitos. We have our son who just turned one and I’m not pregnant or planning but still worried a bit in the back of my mind. My his add booked and I’ve been trying to read/research as much as I can.

    1. Nikkita

      My best friend and my co-worker recently went on two separate Disney cruises to the Bahamas and didn’t have any issues (June and July sailings).


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