In an unprecedented move, Princess has announced today it will pause global operations of its 18 cruise ships for two months in response to the Coronavirus.
The extreme measure comes after the infections of passengers and crew on board the company’s two ships, Diamond Princess in Japan and more recently Grand Princess in Oakland, California.
« Those currently onboard a cruise that will end in the next five days will continue to sail as expected through the end of the itinerary so that onward travel arrangements are not disrupted. Current voyages that are underway and extend beyond March 17 will be ended at the most convenient location for guests, factoring in operational requirements, » the company said in a statement.
« Princess will do everything possible to return each guest home with the greatest amount of care possible. During this time, our operations and medical teams across the fleet will remain vigilant in their care and service for guests and crew onboard. »
Princess is offering guests the opportunity to transfer 100% of the money paid for their cancelled cruise to a future cruise of their choice, with credit benefits included.
Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, said that « while this is a difficult business decision, we firmly believe it is the right one and is in alignment with our company’s core values. »
In order to weather the storm once the company resumes operations, Princess Cruises said that the best way for its supporters and partners to help the company was to book a cruise on board one of its ships.
On the other hand, Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen announced yesterday to currently booked guests that cruises were postponed until May first on its fleet of 79 vessels
« I am sure you recognize that COVID-19 has made travel exceedingly complicated. An increasing number of ports, including Venice, Monte Carlo and Bergen, have temporarily closed to cruise ships, » Hagen said.
« In recent days we have had an experience where a river cruise guest in Southeast Asia was exposed to COVID-19 while in transit on an international airline. While this guest is not exhibiting symptoms, she has been placed in quarantine. Separately, the remaining 28 guests will also be quarantined. »
« I am writing today because the situation has now become such that operating as a travel company involves significant risks of quarantines or medical detentions, » he explained.
Many cruise companies have cancelled scheduled sailings and changed their policies due to coronavirus fears. Photo: Pixabay