Doctor: Don't cancel your Caribbean cruise because of coronavirus

If you've been dreaming of a Caribbean cruise, Highland Travel Medicine's Dr. Nick Beaulieu says he wouldn't let this new coronavirus throw off your plans, at least for now.

"I don't think this should prevent you from getting on a cruise ship, but you should take basic precautions. " Beaulieu says. "You want to be very cautious about washing your hands.  That's probably the most important thing you can do."

Dr. Nick Beaulieu, the founder of Highland Travel Medicine in Atlanta, weighs in on the emerging coronavirus and cruise ships. (FOX 5 Atlanta)

The images of passengers stranded on cruise ships in Asia can be unnerving, but Beaulieu says the risk of a Caribbean cruise ship being quarantined because of coronavirus outbreak is low.

Your risk of gettin sick may come down to the other passengers on your ship.

Most passengers on Caribbean cruises, Beaulieu says, will be coming from the U.S. or South America, where there are still very few cases of the emerging virus.

Because 99% of the confirmed cases are in China, major cruise lines have begun barring passengers who have traveled to either China, Hong Kong, or Macao in the last 14 days.

They're also screening passengers for fever, cough, and other signs of the flu-like virus.

Still, Beaulieu says, cruise ships bring thousands of people together in a relatively small space, so they can be tricky when it comes to contagious viruses.

"The potential for transmission on a cruise ship is obviously a lot higher than in any other circumstance: the proximity of customers on a cruise ship, the surfaces, being used over and over again, the ventilation," he says.

The novel coronavirus is a respiratory illness, spread through airborne droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or left behind on shared surfaces.

So, Beaulieu says bring along disinfecting wipes to clean common areas if you can and watch what you are touching.

"Be cognizant of the fact if you're standing at a rail, there may be someone who has just wiped their nose and put their hands down there," he says.  "So, you want to always be conscious of any surface you touch in these environments may be potentially infectious.

"I think sometimes people might have a habit of biting their fingernails or wiping their nose. Be conscious of those individual behaviors that can lead to the spread of viral infections like that."

Dr. Nick Beaulieu, the founder of Highland Travel Medicine in Atlanta, weighs in on the emerging coronavirus and cruise ships.

Bottom line? 

Beaulieu says he would take that cruise, but will also take more precautions.

"If I do get sick, I'm going to have a secondary plan, things like vitamin C and zinc, and things that have been effective for me in the past, dealing with viral illnesses," he says.