More cruise lines suspend sailings

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen: Quarantines or medical detentions ”could diminish the travel experiences for which our guests have been planning.”

More cruise lines have followed Carnival Corporation’s Princess Brand in announcing suspensions of sailings.

They include Royal Caribbean Cruise Line which said today that, beginning midnight tonight, it will pause its fleet’s U.S. sailings for 30 days.

“We are reaching out to our guests to help them work through this disruption to their vacations, and we are truly sorry for their inconvenience,” said the line. “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 minimize the disruption.”

Disney Cruise Line meantime said that it has decided to suspend all new departures beginning Saturday, March 14, 2020, through the end of the month.

The Disney Dream will depart on a three-night cruise from Port Canaveral as scheduled on Friday, March 13, and will return to Port Canaveral on Monday, March 16. The Disney Fantasy and Disney Magic will return to port on Saturday, March 14. The Disney Wonder, which is currently in the midst of a westbound Panama Canal cruise, will continue on its scheduled itinerary, with guests disembarking in San Diego on Friday, March 20.

The situation is not only affecting cruises departing U.S. ports. Viking said earlier this week that it will temporarily suspend river and ocean cruise operations until May 1, 2020

CLOSED PORTS AND QUARANTINES

In a letter to currently booked guests, Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen writes that COVID-19 has made travel exceedingly complicated. He noted that an increasing number of ports, including Venice, Monte Carlo and Bergen, have temporarily closed to cruise ships; major attractions such as the Vatican and other museums have been closed; and some countries are imposing restrictions on public gatherings and visitors.

“In recent days we have had an experience where a river cruise guest in Southeast Asia was exposed to COVID-19 while in transit on an international airline,” writes Hagen, “While this guest is not exhibiting symptoms, she has been placed in quarantine. Separately, the remaining 28 guests will also be quarantined.”

The situation has now become such, he says, that operating as a travel company involves significant risks of quarantines or medical detentions, which ”could diminish the travel experiences for which our guests have been planning.”

Also announcing a pause is Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines (FOCL), which operates four smaller cruise ships out of U.K. ports. Parent company Bonheur ASA, said the decision came in light of a recent announcement from the U.K. Government that advised those aged over 70, or with underlying health issues, not to take cruises. holidays.

For the time being FOCL’s river ship Brabant is not affected by the pause in operations and its season will commence as planned on April 6.

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