All cruises from Hong Kong will be suspended for two weeks in response to renewed COVID-19 mitigation measures introduced by city authorities.
In addition to a ban on cruises, Hong Kong has also suspended incoming flights from eight countries, banned weekend indoor dining and enacted other measures to counter the spread of the virus.
The suspension of cruises comes just days after a Royal Caribbean cruise out of Hong Kong was cut short due to a positive COVID-19 case that was believed to be linked to a cluster of Omicron cases previously reported ashore.
As a result of the new measures, Royal Caribbean International has had to cancel five upcoming cruises aboard Spectrum of the Seas, which has been operating roundtrip from the city.
Cancelled Spectrum of the Seas itineraries include its January 6th, 9th, 12th and 14th cruises, as well as its January 17th departure.
“We fully expect to welcome back our guests onboard Spectrum’s Jan. 21 cruise,” the cruise line said in a statement, adding that guests affected by the cancellations are invited to either transfer to a later sailing or apply for a full refund.
Dream Cruises, part of the Genting group, the only other cruise line operating out of Hong Kong, has also had to cancel itineraries as a result of the new restrictions.
Dream Cruises said it’s cancelling all itineraries between January 9th and January 19th due to the government directive.
Affected guests are invited to either transfer their booking to a future cruise, receive a future cruise credit with additional onboard credit, or cancel and receive a full refund.
“This cancellation is due to the government’s directive and not as a result of any COVID-19 related incidents onboard the ship,” the cruise line clarified.
While cruise lines operating globally routinely conduct COVID testing before and after each cruise to prevent the spread of the virus onboard, such measures are not enacted for other sectors of the travel industry.
The spread of the Omicron variant in Hong Kong reflects this, while there have been no outbreaks aboard cruise ships sailing from the city, all new COVID-19 cases since May last year have been imported, according to Bloomberg.
This has severely undermined the city’s zero-COVID strategy. An Omicron cluster on land expanded to several circles including a dance group, politicians, churchgoing domestic helpers and patrons in two restaurants in less than two weeks.
About a quarter of the 4,600 rooms in quarantine facilities have also already been filled.