Two of the world’s most recognizable cruise brands took major steps to help curb the spread of Coronavirus today. Princess Cruises and Viking Cruises have both announced they have halted all cruises for a 60-day period. Virgin Voyages has also delayed the maiden voyage of Scarlet Lady until Summer 2020.
Princess made the announcement via Twitter in a video from cruise line President Jan Swartz. Viking made the announcement in a letter from Viking chairman Torstein Hagen, stating they had made the “difficult decision to temporarily suspend operations for river and ocean cruises beginning Thursday through April 30.”
Passengers currently on board Princess and Viking ships will continue their scheduled itineraries until the completion of their cruise.
State Department Halts European Travel Due to Coronavirus
The news that the two cruise lines would pause operation came as President Donald Trump addressed the nation on Wednesday night. The President announced his administration had suspended travel to Europe amid efforts to curb the spread of Coronavirus, known also as Covid 19. The policy is set to go into effect on Friday.
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
-Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz
Europe has been one of the hardest hit regions by the virus. Italy in particular has been inundated with cases, placing its 60+ million people under government imposed quarantine due to the rapid spread across the country.
Positive Cases on board Princess Cruises
While the industry as a whole has suffered as a result of the virus, Princess Cruises has been at the forefront of the news cycle as two of their ships, Diamond Princess and Grand Princess, have positive cases on board. Thousands of passengers have been quarantined on board the two ships over the past month in both Japan and off the coast of San Francisco. The vast majority of the 278 ships currently registered with CLIA remain free from Coronavirus and it would seem the moratorium on future sailings is an attempt to keep it that way.
We have always been dedicated to one truth: the health, safety, & well-being of our guests, teammates, & communities we visit. #PrincessCruises President Jan Swartz shares an update on how our company is upholding this core value during this unprecedented time. pic.twitter.com/5u6pSR62Cb
— Princess Cruises (@PrincessCruises) March 12, 2020
The efforts to curb the spread of the virus may seem drastic to some, but the health and safety of their guests remains the largest concern for cruise lines all over the world. Princess, which is owned and operated by Carnival Corporation, is currently the only brand from the line which has halted cruising, but it would not be surprising if that changed in the coming days. Other major cruise brands such as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have not yet announced suspension of operation, but the situation remains fluid as the US State Department weighs their options to help protect Americans and those traveling in the country.
Virgin Voyages Delays Maiden Voyage
Virgin Voyages was dealt another tough hand with the announcement they were delaying the maiden voyage of their first ship until August 7, 2020. The Showcase Launch tour will now begin on July 15, 2020. In a statement released by the company and signed by founder Sir Richard Branson and CEO Tom McAlpin, the line recognized the current global health crisis as the deciding factor.
Were you scheduled to cruise with Princess or Viking between now and May? Did you have a Virgin Voyages cruise scheduled for this Spring? We want to hear from you!