Princess Cruises to halt operations worldwide due to coronavirus
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Princess Cruises is temporarily halting operations worldwide, effective immediately.
The world’s fifth-largest cruise line early Thursday said it would pause global operations for its fleet of 18 vessels for two months, starting with sailings scheduled to begin today.
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The line cited the global spread of the new coronavirus, which has touched two of its vessels in recent weeks.
“It is widely known that we have been managing the implications of COVID-19 on two continents”, Princess president Jan Swartz said in a statement. “By taking this bold action of voluntarily pausing the operations of our ships, it is our intention to reassure our loyal guests, team members and global stakeholders of our commitment to the health, safety and well-being of all who sail with us, as well as those who do business with us, and the countries and communities we visit around the world”.
Princess is the second and biggest major cruise line to announce a suspension of operations. It follows Viking, which made a similar announcement late Wednesday. Princess carries more than 50,000 passengers a day.
Of the major cruise lines, Princess is the one that has been hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak. One of its Asia-based ships, Diamond Princess, was under quarantine in the harbour of Yokohama, Japan, for several weeks after passengers and crew on the vessel tested positive for COVID-19. Initially, just nine passengers and a single crew member were diagnosed with the illness. But the number of confirmed cases ultimately reached more than 700. At least six passengers have died.
A second Princess ship, Grand Princess, just docked in Oakland this week after a coronavirus outbreak sickened at least 21 passengers and crew members.
Princess on Thursday said cruises currently underway that are scheduled to 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.
“Princess will do everything possible to return each guest home with the greatest amount of care possible”, the line said in a statement. “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 said passengers on canceled sailings can request a full refund. Alternately, they can apply the money they paid for the canceled cruise to a booking for a later sailing. Passengers who choose the latter option get an additional future cruise credit benefit, the line said.
Princess said it would honour the offer for passengers who already had cancelled a booking on one of the sailings after making final payment on or after 4 February.
Princess said it would resume operations on 11 May.
Feature image courtesy of Princess Cruises.
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