Princess Cruises pauses operations for 60 days

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Princess Cruises pauses operations for 60 days
Photo Credit: Vintagepix/Shutterstock.com

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 7.  

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 Princess.com.

“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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