Global cruise industry grinds to a halt amid Coronavirus pandemic

The global Coronavirus pandemic is bringing the world’s cruise industry to a standstill amid growing fears over the vulnerability of cruise ships to on-board outbreaks of the virus.

A further five cruise lines on Thursday joined Princess Cruises, Viking Ocean Cruises and Virgin Voyages in cancelling all cruises.

All cruise operations of out Dubai have been suspended, part of a worldwide shutdown

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By Friday evening, Costa Cruises, AIDA Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Windstar and Celestyal had all announced that they too were suspending operations worldwide.

On Saturday morning, Norwegian Cruise Line, along with its Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas cruise brands, joined the fray, while MSC Cruises and Royal Caribbean said it would cease all US cruises for 30 days.

The moves by Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line were prompted by US President Donald Trump’s decision Friday night to suspend permission for all cruises operating from US ports for the next month.

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While President Trump’s tweet specifically mentioned Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises, it is understood that the measure is a blanket ban that applies to all cruise ships sailing from any US port.

The decision, part of a widespread series of measures aimed at limiting the spread of Covid-19, the particular strain of Coronavirus that was declared a global pandemic by the WHO earlier in the week, effectively shuts down the global cruise industry as North America accounts for around 49% of the global market.

The US decision mirrors that undertaken by several countries around the world, including the UAE which suspended all cruise operations earlier in the week. The measures make it near to impossible for cruise lines to sail anywhere, as even if some ports still allow cruises to depart, the ships will have nowhere to go.

Below is a rundown of all the cruise companies that have announced a global or limited suspension of operations.

Princess Cruises – Princess has suspended global operations of its 18 cruise ships for two months (60 days), impacting voyages departing March 12th to May 10th. Princess is offering guests a 100% future cruise credit. To add a bonus incentive for guests to accept this offer, the company will add an additional generous future cruise credit benefit which can be applied to the cruise fare or onboard expenses. In addition, Princess will honor this offer for those guests who had made final payment and cancelled their booking on or after February 4th, 2020. The future cruise credit can be used on any voyage departing through May 1st, 2022.

Viking Ocean Cruises – Viking was the first to suspend cruise operations. It has shut down its entire fleet of cruise ships and river boats until May 1st. “For those guests whose cruise falls within this window of suspended operations, we are offering the choice of a Future Cruise Voucher valued at 125% of all monies paid to Viking or a refund equal to the amount paid,” the cruise line said in a statement. “Guests will have 24 months to use their Future Cruise Voucher to make a new reservation on any river, ocean or expedition cruise. For additional flexibility, if you are unable to use your voucher, we will automatically send you a refund equal to the original amount paid to Viking after the voucher expires. These Future Cruise Vouchers will also be fully transferable.”

Virgin Voyages – Virgin Voyages has delayed the inaugural sailing season for Scarlet Lady until July 15th, 2020, with her Maiden Voyage now scheduled for August 7th, 2020. Virgin Voyages is offering a range of options from a full refund and a voyage credit to extra special bonuses if you book a future sailing.

Costa Cruises – Costa Cruises is suspending global cruise operations until April 3rd, cruises currently underway will end their current cruise only to allow guests to disembark and return to their home. The cruise line is offering guests a full refund for the cruises affected.

Cunard Line – Cunard has cancelled all voyages through April 11, 2020. “Having reviewed all of our ship operations and industry recommendations, we have decided no new guests or crew will be joining our ships as we suspend operations until April 11, 2020,” said Cunard President, Simon Palethorpe. “This pause in operations has been done in an abundance of caution to support the global effort to contain the spread of Covid-19.”

Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will be returning to Southampton and Queen Elizabeth will remain in Australia. Passengers booked on a cruise due to depart before April 11 are being offered a 125 percent Future Cruise Credit to be used on a new cruise departing any time before the end of March 2022.

AIDA Cruises – AIDA Cruises is suspending global cruise operations until the end of March. The spread of the coronavirus is currently presenting a very difficult situation for countless people and the economy worldwide,” the company said in a statement. “As tour operators and employers, we have a great responsibility towards our guests and crew members. That’s why today we have made the decision to temporarily stop AIDA travel season until the beginning of April 2020.” No details were given about compensation for guests.

Disney Cruise Line – Disney Cruise Line will suspend all new departures beginning Saturday, March 14th, 2020, through the end of the month aboard the company’s four ships. The Disney Dream will depart on a three-night cruise from Port Canaveral as scheduled on Friday, March 13th, and will return to Port Canaveral on Monday, March 16th. The Disney Fantasy and Disney Magic will return to port on Saturday, March 14th. The Disney Wonder, which is currently in the midst of a westbound Panama Canal cruise, will continue on its scheduled itinerary, with guests disembarking in San Diego on Friday, March 20th. Disney Cruise Line will offer guests affected by this decision a future cruise credit or a full refund, the details of which will be provided directly to them.

Windstar – Windstar Cruises will temporarily suspend operations worldwide for cruises embarking March 14th through April 30th, 2020 due to the unpredictable environment surrounding the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Cruises will begin operating again according to schedule on May 1st, 2020. Guests on canceled cruises will receive the choice of a Future Cruise Credit valued at 125% of all monies paid to Windstar Cruises or a refund equal to the amount paid on the Windstar booking. Guests will have 24 months to book and embark on any available Windstar cruise using their Future Cruise Credit.

Celestyal – Celestyal Cruises has paused its cruise operations until May 1st, 2020. Guests will receive a choice of either a Future Cruise Credit valued at 120 percent of the original booking value or a refund of the original amount paid. Guests will have until the end of December 2021 to use their Future Cruise Credit against any of our itineraries. For additional flexibility, anyone that has not used their Future Cruise Credit within the specified period, will automatically receive a refund equal to the original amount paid to Celestyal.

Norwegian Cruise Line (including Regent and Oceania) – Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the parent company of NCL, Regent and Oceania, has suspended all cruise voyages embarking between March 13thand April 11th, 2020. Guests who are currently booked on voyages with embarkation dates within this periodwill receive a 125 percent refund of the fare paid in the form of a future cruise credit, which can be applied toward any future cruise through December 31st, 2022. For guests who wish to not avail themselves of the 125 percent future cruise credit, a 100 percent refund of the fare paid will be reimbursed to the original form of payment within 90 days of guests’ request.

MSC Cruises – MSC Cruises has suspended all cruise operations for 45 days until April 30th. This adds to an earlier decision to halt cruise operations in the US and high-risk regions where the virus has seen widespread contagion (the Mediterranean, the Gulf and Asia). It means a global suspension for the cruise line as North America and the Mediterranean, along with Dubai, are some of its largest markets. South African cruises out of Durban will also be suspended early.

“As the COVID-19 situation is now a global pandemic, governments across the globe are continuously reviewing ashore public health and safety measures to protect local populations and limit the further spread of the virus,” the cruise line said in a statement. “MSC Cruises’ decision last week to halt all its operation fleet-wide for a period of at least 45 days aims to mirror and further support the effectiveness of such efforts.”

MSC is offering passengers a full refund and a future cruise credit valued at 125 percent of the original cruise fare paid (excluding taxes and fees, which will be refunded to the original method of payment) that can be applied to a new cruise booking for sailings departing through the end of 2021.

Marella Cruises – British cruise line Marella has cancelled all sailings until April 16 as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. The line initially suspended all cruises until March 28, but that has now been extended to April 16 for Marella Discovery 2, Dream, Explorer and Explorer 2; and until April 17 on Marella Discovery; and until April 30 on Marella Celebration.

The line confirmed that all passengers due to sail will be proactively notified and automatically issued a full refund.

P&O Cruises – The UK’s P&O line has cancelled all cruises across the fleet until April 11. P&O Cruises will provide a 125 percent Future Cruise Credit. This Future Cruise Credit will be applied automatically to guest accounts for use on a P&O Cruises holiday departing before the end of March 2022. The line is the last of the larger UK-focussed lines to suspend operations following Saga, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Fred. Olsen and Marella Cruises.

P&O’s Australian arm, P&O Australia will also suspend operations across all three of its ships until April 12th.

Royal Caribbean (including Celebrity, Azamara and Silversea) – Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, the second-largest cruise corporation in the world, has announced all cruise operations in the United States will be suspended from March 14th through April 14th. “We are reaching out to our guests to help them work through this disruption to their vacations, and we are truly sorry for their inconvenience. We are also communicating with our crew to work out the issues this decision presents for them. We know this adds great stress to our guests, employees and crew, and we are working to minimize the disruption,” the company said in a statement. No details were given on compensation offers.

Seabourn – Seabourn is suspending global operations of all five of its vessels for 30 days, beginning March 14, 2020. All voyages currently underway will end by March 22, 2020.

Passengers on impacted sailings will receive a 125 percent refund as a future cruise credit, which can be applied to any voyage departing through December 31, 2021. Alternatively, Seabourn will provide a 100 percent refund to the original form of payment to those who decline the additional future cruise credit.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages – CMV is suspending all its cruises until April 24th, citing the growing restrictions on the number of ports allowing cruise ships to dock. The company intends to resume operations on April 24th. All affected passengers will be offered a full refund or an attractive future cruise credit of 125 percent of the value of their cruise. This credit can be used against the best deal of the day including the current 2021 Buy One Get One Free Offers and 2020 late saver deals. Passengers that opt to transfer will also enjoy a special 20 percent discount against CMV’s Onboard Additions beverage packages, plus a 10 percent shore excursion discount plus a one cabin category upgrade (subject to availability).

Fred Olsen Cruise Line – Fred Olsen will suspend all cruise operations until May 23rd, due to recent announcement from the UK Government which advises those aged over 70, or with underlying health issues, not to take cruise holidays and the growing number of ports turning cruise ships away. It’s unclear what compensation will be offered to passengers.

Carnival Cruise Line – Carnival will pause operations across its fleet of ships based in North America until April 9th, with operations resuming on April 10th.

All ships currently at sea will continue with their scheduled voyages and return to their homeports as scheduled.

“While Carnival has not had a diagnosed case linked to our operation, we realize this situation is bigger than the cruise industry and we will continue to do our part to support public officials to manage and contain this unprecedented public health challenge,” the cruise line said in a statement.

“Our guests have been tremendously patient and understanding as we have reacted to a rapidly changing situation and a desire to be responsive to authorities in the U.S. and the destinations we visit. We are very sorry that this decision will disrupt the vacation plans for our guests and look forward to resuming operations and providing our guests safe, fun and memorable vacations.”

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises – All Hapag-Lloyd cruises have been suspended and are scheduled to return to service as follows: Europa (April 28th), Europa 2 (April 30th), Bremen (May 23rd), Hanseatic Nature (May 19th), Hanseatic Inspiration (April 28th).

Holland America Line – Holland America will suspend all cruise departures globally through April 14th, 2020, and is shortening a few long cruises sailing at the time the operational pause was announced.

Silversea Cruises – Silversea is canceling sailings until the following dates: Silver Cloud (May 7th), Silver Wind (April 30th), Silver Shadow (April 16th), Silver Spirit (April 15th), Silver Muse (May 28th), Silver Whisper (May 25th), Silver Explorer (June 7th), Silver Galapagos (April 11th).

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