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Royal Caribbean has halted sailings in Australia and worldwide for 30 days due to COVID-19 concerns.

The line had announced the voluntary halt in America on Friday but said it would continue sailings in Australia until the end of its current season.

But this morning, Royal Caribbean put out a further statement saying: “We understand the gravity of the public health crisis confronting the world. And this is our part to play. So, beginning today, we are pausing the fleet’s Australia sailings for 30 days.

The line confirms that cruises that departed from Australian or New Zealand ports prior to its announcement will continue to operate and return to Australia as planned. This includes Voyager, Ovation and Spectrum which is currently its third and final complimentary First Responders ‘Thank You’ cruise.

 “We are reaching out to our guests to help them work through this disruption to their holidays, and we are truly sorry for the 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 minimise the disruption. Cruises that departed from Australian ports prior to our announcement will continue to operate and return to Australia as planned.

“Our business is providing great holidays and creating great memories. We look forward to getting back to work as soon as we can.”

The line will be providing a 125% future cruise credit or a full refund to affected guests.

The move came after New Zealand announced it was banning cruise ships from its ports for over three months starting at 10 pm tonight.

The shock announcement came as Radiance of the Seas was taking on board passengers for a cruise to Milford Sound.

The line told Cruise Passenger today: “As a result of the New Zealand Government’s decision to temporarily close its ports to cruise ships we have cancelled the 14 March sailing of Radiance of the Seas.

Radiance remained in Sydney at anchor overnight to enable those guests wishing to remain on board to make arrangements for their onward journeys, Our priority is the health and safety for guests and crew.

“We consider safety also of populations in areas we sail and serve and we monitor and adapt when we are required to do so. We understand the New Zealand Government is managing a difficult situation and we support their decision.”

The moves followed similar decisions by Norwegian Cruise Lines today, and Princess Cruises on Friday.

Princess has halted sailings for 60 days world wide, while Norwegian has stopped voyages on Norwegian, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas ships between March 13 and April 11.

Holland America has stopped sailings of its global fleet of 14 ships for a month until April 14. Cruise and Maritime Voyages has halted sailings for six weeks until April 24.

Royal Caribbean had put into place new health requirements for passengers in Australia and elsewhere to help enhance screening and ensure safety.  Those over 70 will now be required to produce a doctor’s letter stating they are fit to travel and have no chronic illnesses.

Those who cannot travel are being given a 100% future cruise credit, and the line has a 48-hour Cruise With Confidence cancellation policy.

Royal Caribbean had local sailings remaining on Radiance of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas. Spectrum of the Seas is currently taking bush fire first responders on the last of a series of free cruises from Sydney.

In America on Friday, the line issued a statement saying: “We understand the gravity of the public health crisis confronting the country. And this is our part to play. So, beginning at midnight tonight, we are pausing the fleet’s US sailings for 30 days.”

Royal Caribbean’s sister brands, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea have also cancelled sailings for the next month.

Norwegian Cruise Lines, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas have cancelled cruises from March 13 to April 11, 2020.

CMV made its announcement today.

CEO Christian Verhounig said the cruise line’s top and overriding priority is the health and safety of its passengers and crew. All CMV vessels will navigate to the nearest available disembarkation port and will be assisting with the repatriation of international passengers as required. Details of this will be advised in due course.

Mr Verhounig said: “Due to this fast-evolving global pandemic, we are simply unable to continue performing our scheduled itineraries and to deliver the travel experience expected by our valued passengers.”

All affected passengers will be offered a full refund or a future cruise credit of 125% 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% discount against CMV’s Onboard Additions packages, plus a 10% shore excursion discount, plus a one cabin category upgrade (subject to availability).

Holland America’s president Orlando Ashford said: “These are unprecedented times, and while no guests or crew have tested positive for COVID-19 on any of our ships, we must take a leadership position as a global citizen and ensure that we are doing everything we can to help stabilise the situation.

“We know this decision will be disappointing and also inconvenience guests currently in transit, and for that we sincerely apologise. All of us at Holland America Line are fully committed to supporting all our guests through this change.

Three cruises that were scheduled to depart this weekend are now cancelled. Booked guests and their travel advisors are in the process of being notified. Guests on these three cruises cancelled this weekend will receive a 100% refund and 100% Future Cruise Credit.

MSC maintains much of its fleet is still operational and has no COVID-19 cases, but its website carries the following:

“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.

In the Mediterranean due to the limitation of personal movements and the port closure requested respectively by the Italian and the Spanish governments, 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.

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