Norwegian Cruise Lines Pushes Staff to Sell Trips by Lying About the Coronavirus

Internal document claims COVID-19 can’t strike along “amazingly warm and tropical” itineraries.

A cruise ship with possibly infected passengers avoids docking in Belgium.Kurt Desplenter/AFP via Getty Images

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Norwegian Cruise Line managers are pushing dangerous lies in an attempt to drum up and maintain business as the tourism industry is going through a significant slowdown prompted by concerns over the coronavirus.

The company’s sales directors are reportedly asking team members to lie about the coronavirus to protect bookings, according to the Miami New Times. As one anonymous employee told the paper:

“These discussions take place every day. And even during our department meetings, managers tell us that it isn’t a big deal, that more people die from other things…[They’re] constantly underestimating it.”

An email shared with the Florida publication outlines false talking points that sales team members were reportedly told to use use on customers who are considering canceling their trips because of the virus. 

“The Coronavirus can only survive in cold temperatures, so the Caribbean is a fantastic choice for your next cruise,” one talking point reads.

“Scientists and medical professionals have confirmed that the warm weather of the spring will be the end of the Coronavirus,” a second says.

Another line instructs that “the Coronavirus cannot live in the amazingly warm and tropical temperatures that your cruise will be sailing to.”

These claims, particularly the one citing unnamed scientists and medical professionals, are patently false. The medical community does not firmly know what will happen with coronavirus as the weather gets warmer. While colds and flus happen more frequently in the fall and winter, they can strike year round. Scientists do not yet know enough about the coronavirus to assume that it will behave similarly in warmer temperatures.

That hasn’t stopped President Trump from giving oxygen to the unfounded claim. In February he tweeted that “There’s a theory that, in April, when it gets warm—historically, that has been able to kill the virus. So we don’t know yet; we’re not sure yet.”

On Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a key member of Trump’s coronavirus task force, also warned that it was too early to say if warm weather would stem the virus’ spread. During a House Oversight Committee hearing, he cautioned that making plans as if that were true would be a mistake: “We do not know what this virus is going to do. We would hope that as we get to warmer weather it would go down, but we can’t proceed under that assumption. We’ve got to assume it’s going to get worse and worse and worse.”

The cruise industry has taken a financial hit as travelers have stopped booking or cancelled trips. Several cruise ships have been quarantined all over the world as passengers have contracted the virus onboard, with vacationers forced to stay in their rooms.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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