Princess Cruises are set to halt their 18 cruise ships for two months globally due to two passengers being diagnosed with the coronavirus.
What We Know:
- The move came after another cruise ship operator, Viking, announced it would also suspend ocean and river cruises until May. Viking has 16 ocean-going ships and more than 70 vessels overall.
Later in the day, Virgin Voyages, the new cruise line that is part of Virgin Group, announced that it will delay its inaugural voyage until August 7.
“The current global health crisis is understandably making many people rethink upcoming travel plans,” said Virgin Voyages’ in a statement.
- The cruise industry has been hit the hardest out of all travel industries. Demand for cruises have dropped dramatically. Health authorities have urged the elderly not to take the cruise, which could expose them to the virus.
- According to CNN, The Grand Princess cruise ship, which docked this week in Oakland, had 19 passengers and two crew members diagnosed with the coronavirus. At least two passengers aboard the the Diamond Princess, which docked in Japan last month, have died from the coronavirus, according to health authorities. More than 700 people who were on board tested positive for the virus.
- The cancellations make sense, given how much bookings for the cruises have dropped on the news of the virus on board some ships, wrote UBS analyst Robin Farley.
- “We wouldn’t be surprised to see other cruise lines follow Princess’ decision to suspend operations,” Farley wrote in a note Thursday. “Between the lower occupancy from the ban on European travelers … and the industry’s proposal to temporarily ban passengers over age 70, in addition to passengers making use of generous cruise deferral policies, near term occupancy is likely to be low for all cruise lines.”
- Executives from the cruise industry met with Vice President Mike Pence, to discuss suggested changes to make the passengers safer, which includes screening passengers before they get on the ship.
- “Out of 272 cruise ships that are part of the [cruise industry] fleet, there have been very few ships affected which the industry believes points to the effectiveness of these changing policies and protocols,” said the trade group.
Princess Cruises said it will suspend operations with the next five days. However, the ship will continue to sail through the end of its current itineraries so that passengers’ travel arrangements are not disrupted.