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Princess Cruises has halted global operations of its 18 ships for 60 days in a pre-emptive move over the COVID-19 virus, its website announced last night.

The move comes only hours after Viking stopped all sailings of its ocean and river fleets, and also comes as cruise lines await the results of negotiations with White House officials in America over their new health and safety proposals.

Princess, which has a strong presence in Australia, has also revealed what will happen to our local ships.

“Princess Cruises will be doing everything possible to return each guest home with all possible care,” said a spokesman. “Guests on each of the ships – Sun Princess, Sea Princess, Ruby Princess and Golden Princess – will be advised of arrangements in relation to the completion of their respective cruises.”

The Australia-based fleet are:
·        Sydney-based Sea Princess is currently on an Australia circumnavigation.
·        Fremantle-based Sun Princess is currently on a domestic cruise to Australian ports
·        Sydney-based Ruby Princess is currently on a New Zealand cruise
·        Melbourne-based Golden Princess is currently on a New Zealand cruise

Sun Princess and Ruby Princess will complete their cruises as scheduled in Sydney. Pacific Princess, which is currently on a world voyage, will disembark guests in Australia.

The line’s website says: “In proactive response to the unpredictable circumstances evolving from the global spread of COVID-19 and in an abundance of caution, Princess Cruises announced that it will voluntarily pause global operations of its 18 cruise ships for two months (60 days), impacting voyages departing March 12 to May 10”.

Line president Jan Swartz says: “Princess Cruises is a global vacation company that serves more than 50,000 guests daily from 70 countries as part of our diverse business, and it is widely known that we have been managing the implications of COVID-19 on two continents.

“By taking this bold action of voluntarily pausing the operations of our ships, it is our intention to reassure our loyal guests, team members and global stakeholders of our commitment to the health, safety and well-being of all who sail with us, as well as those who do business with us, and the countries and communities we visit around the world,” added Swartz.

“While this is a difficult business decision, we firmly believe it is the right one and is in alignment with our company’s core values. Rest assured the long-serving and dedicated professionals at our company will make best use of this time to prepare Princess Cruises’ fleet of cruise ships for a successful return to operation to serve our guests by delivering an exceptional vacation experience.”

The website says those currently onboard a cruise that will end in the next five days will continue to sail as expected through the end of the itinerary, so that onward travel arrangements are not disrupted.

Current voyages that are underway and extend beyond March 17 will be ended at the most convenient location for guests, factoring in operational requirements.

“Princess will do everything possible to return each guest home with the greatest amount of care possible. During this time, our operations and medical teams across the fleet will remain vigilant in their care and service for guests and crew onboard,” says the website.

It adds: “For those who are impacted by this business decision, Princess is offering guests the opportunity to transfer 100% of the money paid for their cancelled cruise to a future cruise of their choice.”

The company says it will add an additional generous future cruise credit benefit which can be applied to the cruise fare or onboard expenses.  In addition, Princess will honour this offer for those guests who had made final payment and cancelled their booking on or after February 4, 2020. The future cruise credit can be used on any voyage departing through May 1, 2022.

Princess will protect travel advisor commissions on bookings for cancelled cruises that were paid in full and for the total amount of the future cruise credits, in recognition of the critical role they play in the cruise line’s business and success.

If the future cruise credit option does not work for some guests, they will be able to complete an electronic form on Princess.com to request a cash refund.

Princess asks guests not to call the Reservation Call Center due to the possibility of high call volumes and the potential of long on-hold wait times due to this unprecedented action. Guests and their travel advisors will be sent communications on how to manage cancellations and desired compensation.

In a video posted on YouTube, Jan Swartz shares that “while this is a difficult business decision, we firmly believe it is the right one and is in alignment with our company’s core values. Rest assured the long-serving and dedicated professionals at our company will make best use of this time to prepare Princess Cruises’ fleet of cruise ships for a successful return to operation to serve our guests by delivering an exceptional vacation experience.”

“Loyal guests, employees, travel advisor partners and business partners around the world have asked what they can do support Princess Cruises and its more than 35,000 team members in these challenging times. The answer is simple – book a cruise with Princess and bring your family and friends along.  The company offers over 180 itineraries to popular and exotic destinations around the globe.”

Princess Cruises plans to be back in operation beginning with cruises departing May 11, 2020.

MSC Cruises has also cancelled Mediterranean cruises across eight ships

The line announced that they are forced to adjust or cancel some of their itineraries due to the restrictions imposed by various government and port authorities, and the safety measures we put in place since January.

The affected ships include MSC Bellissima, Lirica, Opera, Sinfonia, Splendida, Grandiosa, Divina, Preziosa.

However, MSC Fantasia Genoa roundtrip departing April 4 remain unchanged.

“In the Emirates due to a limitation on passenger’s movement imposed by the local authorities we are cancelling the cruises of MSC Bellissima and MSC Lirica starting from March 14, including the Grand Voyages of MSC Bellissima on March 21 and that of MSC Lirica on April 18,” says the line in the statement.

“In the Mediterranean due to the limitation of movements requested by the Italian government, and the announced closure of Spanish ports we are cancelling the cruises of MSC Grandiosa from March 14 to March 28, and the cruises of MSC Opera from March 10 to April 21.

“In the Antilles due to the restrictions in Martinique we are cancelling the cruises of MSC Preziosa from March 14 to March 28. All these changes as well as smaller ones are summarized in the table below.

“Please note we may have to do further adjustments as the situation evolves. For the cruises we are forced to cancel we will offer to our guests a voucher equal to the value of the cancelled cruise, to be used for any future sailing departing before the end of 2021 plus an on board credit of €100 per cabin for cancelled cruises up to 6 nights and €200 for cruises of 7 nights or longer. Solely for the cancellation of MSC Bellissima Grand Voyage Dubai-Yokohama, and MSC Lirica Grand Voyage Dubai-Venice, we will offer and on board credit of €400 per cabin. This credit is refundable, valid for any period of the year and can be combined with any existing promotion.”

See their website for full details of affected sailings.

Virgin Voyages has decided to postpone the Showcase Tour launch of the line’s first ship Scarlet Lady until July 15, 2020 and her inaugural sailing to August 7, 2020. At Virgin Voyages, they are offering a range of options from a full refund and a voyage credit to extra special bonuses if you book a future sailing.

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