Princess Cruises pauses operations coronavirus

Princess Cruises is shutting down global operations for 60
days in response to the coronavirus pandemic, affecting voyages through May 10.

The move comes the morning after President Trump announced a
coronavirus containment plan that includes sharply restricting passenger travel from 26
European nations to the U.S.. The White House is also in the midst of considering a plan
proposed by CLIA that would help prevent and
contain the virus on cruise ships. Viking on Wednesday night also suspended river and ocean
cruise operations until May 1.

“Princess Cruises is a global vacation company that serves
more than 50,000 guests daily from 70 countries as part of our diverse
business, and it is widely known that we have been managing the implications of
Covid-19 on two continents,” Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, said in
a written 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 has had at least four ships affected by the
outbreak. In February, about 2,600 passengers were quarantined on the Diamond
Princess in Japan, and more than 700 people were infected with the virus. The
Grand Princess, with 2,422 guests and 1,111 crew members, is still disembarking
at the Port of Oakland after days of circling international waters off the
coast of California. So far, 21 individuals — 19 crew members and two guests
— have tested positive for coronavirus. 

The Regal Princess also had to sail up and down the Florida
coast while two crew members who had come from the Grand Princess were tested
for coronavirus. They tested negative. And the Los Angeles-based Royal Princess
was put under a “no-sail” order while a crew member was tested, forcing the
cancellation of a seven-day cruise to Mexico that was scheduled to start March

Passengers onboard a cruise that will end in the next five
days will continue to sail through the end of the itinerary. Voyages that are
underway and extend beyond March 17 will end at “the most convenient location
for guests, factoring in operational requirements.” Princess said it would 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,” the company said.

Princess is offering guests on any canceled sailings during
the shutdown a 100% credit toward a future cruise. They will get another future
cruise credit on top of that. Those travelers who made final payment on a
cruise and canceled the booking on or after Feb. 4 will get a credit toward any
voyage departing though May 1, 2022. 

The company also promised to protect travel advisor
commissions on bookings for canceled cruises that were paid in full and for the
total amount of the future cruise credits.

Those who do not wish to take a future cruise with Princess
can request a cash refund by filling out an electronic form on

“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,”
Swartz said in a video posted on YouTube. “Rest assured the long-serving and
dedicated professionals at our company will make best use of this time to
prepare Princess Cruises’ fleet of cruise ships for a successful return to
operation to serve our guests by delivering an exceptional vacation experience.”

Princess plans to resume operations with cruises departing
May 11.

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