With the UAE having made the unprecedented decision to close all its cruise ports and suspend all cruise operations, Royal Caribbean has been forced to cancel the remainder of its cruise season in the Middle East.
“Due to developments related to coronavirus (COVID-19) and ports closures to cruise ship travel in some countries, we have made the decision to cancel our March 16th sailing for Jewel of the Seas,” Royal Caribbean said in an emailed statement.
All April sailing for Quantum of the Seas, homeporting in Singapore, have also been cancelled. While Singapore hasn’t suspended cruise operations, most of the ports on Quantum of the Seas’ itineraries have, leaving the cruise line with no alternative.
The decision to cancel Jewel of the Seas’ remaining roundtrip Dubai cruise in the Arabian Gulf (departing March 16th), as well as her repositioning cruise to Europe, comes after the ship was forced to suspend her March 9th sailing from Dubai.
Jewel of the Seas was bound for Abu Dhabi on the first night of the voyage when two passengers were reported to have symptoms of a respiratory illness. In an abundance of caution, Abu Dhabi informed Royal Caribbean that the ship would not be allowed to dock.
Royal Caribbean has refunded the cruise fare for all passengers and provided a future cruise credit, in addition to allowing passengers to use the ship as a hotel at the Dubai Cruise Terminal while they arrange transport home.
The UAE’s decision to suspend cruise operations at all its ports is in line with measures being taken elsewhere in the world to restrict travel and contain the spread of Coronavirus, also known as Covid-19.
US President Trump has suspended flights between the United States and the European Union (Italy is one of the worst-affected countries in the world behind Iran and China with more than 10,000 cases and in excess of 600 deaths).
The country has gone into a full lockdown with cruise ships only being allowed to disembark passengersuntil further notice.
The UAE has taken wide-ranging steps to contain the spread of COVID-19, the particular strain of Coronavirus that was declared a global pandemic by the WHO on Wednesday night.
Schools have been closed for four weeks, most major events in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have been cancelled, and now the cruise industry has been shut down for the first time ever.
There are concerns about the vulnerability of cruise ships to the virus in particular due to the nature of the way it is spread and its latency period of two weeks, during which people without symptoms can still potentially be contagious.
Diamond Princess made global headline recently when 700 passengers on-board got sick with the virus during a quarantine period on-board off the coast of Japan.
Categories: Middle East Cruise News