Cruise lines begin cancelling China cruises as coronavirus death toll mounts

Major cruise lines homeporting in China have announced that they are pulling their ships from the region amid reports that the coronavirus may be more contagious than initially thought.

Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Genting Cruise Lines have announced that they are immediately suspending cruise operations in mainland China.

MSC Cruises has indicated that at least once cruise aboard MSC Splendida will be cancelled. The ship, which previously homeported in Dubai, is currently sailing roundtrip cruises out of Shanghai.

Costa Venezia at the cruise terminal in Hong Kong, the cruise line has suspended mainland operations

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“Due to urgent guidelines from the Chinese government to combat the spread of the coronavirus, MSC Cruises is required to cancel the upcoming cruise with MSC Splendida on Jan. 28,” MSC said in a statement.

“Guests booked on this cruise have the option to receive a full refund of their cruise ticket and port charges, or book an alternative sailing with an equivalent price and receiving additional onboard credit – with an embarkation date before the end of the year,” the statement added.

Spectrum of the Seas has had cruises in China cancelled

Royal Caribbean also cancelled its Jan. 27 sailing on Spectrum of the Seas, which was also scheduled to depart from Shanghai. Like Splendida, Spectrum also cruised from Dubai en-route to China.

Costa Cruises has taken the biggest hit as one of the largest foreign operators in the region. The cruise line has cancelled sailings on Costa Serena for Jan. 25 and 31; Costa Atlantica on Jan. 27 and 31; Costa Venezia on Jan 26. and Feb. 2 and the Costa neoRomantica on Jan. 25, 30 and Feb. 2.

In a statement, Costa said guests are eligible for a full refund, or can choose an alternative sailing date before the end of the year along with a $50 onboard credit.

Authorities in China are battling to contain the coronavirus outbreak

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More cancellations are likely, as travel agencies have been instructed by authorities to stop group tours, which make up most of the Chinese cruise market.

China has also suspended outbound group travel, which could have an effect on the key markets where China is relied on as a source market, such as ships sailing in the Middle East, Europe, Alaska and North America.

Genting’s Dream Cruises brand has cancelled a turnaround call in Guangzhou for the World Dream, but will continue to operate from Hong Kong, according to a statement as the 2017-built ship interports between both homeports.

Other operators with a presence in China during the winter include Astro Ocean, which has yet to issue any statements regarding close-in deployment, but could follow suit during the high-yielding weeks of Chinese New Year.

At the time of writing, the virus had killed more than 80 people and infected more than 2,800 in a dozen countries, including Europe and the United States. The majority are in mainland China, particularly the city of Wuhan, where the outbreak started.

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