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Port of Seattle says coronavirus travel warning could impact upcoming cruise season

Waterfront businesses that rely on tourists say they have already seen a drop in sales amid coronavirus concerns.

SEATTLE — The Port of Seattle says cruise season is scheduled to run from April 1 until Oct. 19, but concerns about coronavirus could impact the upcoming season.

On Sunday, the State Department said U.S. citizens, especially with underlying conditions, should not travel by cruise ship.

"Many countries have implemented screening procedures, denied port entry rights to ships and prevented disembarking," the State Department warned.

Peter McGraw with the Port of Seattle said, "they are recommending that you do avoid travel on cruise vessels."

RELATED: State Department warns U.S. citizens to avoid cruise ship travel, cites increased risk of COVID-19

The Port of Seattle is reviewing its options and talking with their partners ahead of the upcoming cruise season.

In statements, Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line said they are "open for business."

"Guests should make individual decisions knowing that we continue to implement higher and more rigorous protocols to protect their health and safety," said a Carnival Cruise Line spokesperson.

"The safety of the public is our preeminent concern here at the Port of Seattle," said McGraw.

Every time a cruise ship docks, $4 million goes into the local economy, according to Port of Seattle. Cruise season supports about 5,500 jobs.

"Over the cruise season, this region can expect about $900 million in economic impact. So it is significant, and it is a situation we're taking very seriously," said McGraw.

Along the waterfront, the Seattle Shop is noticing less foot traffic already.

"All our all our customers are tourists," said Jay Ashburg, the owner of The Seattle Shop and the Seattle Shirt Company. "This past weekend, I said this will really answer a lot of questions, what happens this weekend. And my fears came true. It was a dramatic drop from last year."

Ashburg said he saw a 40% drop.

"If this goes into the summer, it's going to be devastating," said Ashburg.

The Port of Seattle calls this a 'rapidly developing' situation. They are using the time before cruise season starts to closely coordinate with their partners, and will provide an update soon about plans for the upcoming season.

RELATED: Seattle couple on quarantined cruise ship off California coast

Read Holland America Line's full statement below: 

Today, cruising remains one of the best vacation values available. In close coordination with global health authorities, Holland America Line has implemented rigorous protocols to protect the health and safety of those traveling on its ships.

While some travel advisories have been announced, we are open for business and look forward to welcoming guests who choose to cruise with us. Holland America Line encourages its guests to make individual, informed decisions knowing that there are flexible options for cancellation and rigorous cleaning protocols on board all ships.

During this uncertain time, there are several programs to support guests, including allowing more flexibility in cancellation policies and a Compassion Policy that lets guests with high-risk health issues cancel at any time with documentation from their health care provider.

All Holland America Line ships also conduct thorough 24/7 cleaning protocols approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that involve deep cleaning and wiping all surfaces with the disinfectant Virox, which has a proven track record of killing COVID-19 and is used in many hospitals. At this time, no cases of COVID-19 have been reported among guests or crew sailing on Holland America Line ships.

We will continue to work closely with the U.S. CDC and World Health Organization to ensure our pre-boarding screening processes stay up-to-date with the latest requirements. Screening processes and cancellation policy details can be found on the Travel Advisory section of our website.