CDC Says Defer Cruise Travel; Issues Report Inside the Princess Outbreak

Diamond Princess

A new CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevent) report recommends that travellers “defer all cruise travel worldwide” due to increased risk for coronavirus. The report is available here.

The report points out that coronavirus survived for 17 days on the Diamond Princess in an empty stateroom, and also outlines some 800 coronavirus cases between the Diamond and Grand Princess ships.

During the initial stages of the coronavirus, the Diamond Princess was the setting of the largest outbreak outside mainland China, according to the CDC.

“Cruise ships are often settings for outbreaks of infectious diseases because of their closed environment and contact between travellers from many countries,” said the CDC. “More than 800 cases of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases occurred during outbreaks on three cruise ship voyages, and cases linked to several additional cruises have been reported across the United States. Transmission occurred across multiple voyages from ship to ship by crew members; both crew members and passengers were affected; 10 deaths associated with cruise ships have been reported to date.”

The report is available here.

Princess Cruises to Suspend Operations for 60 Days

Royal Princess

Princess Cruises announced will temporarily and voluntarily pause all ship operations for 60 days, calling it a proactive response to the unpredictable circumstances evolving from the global spread of COVID-19 and in an abundance of caution.

The company will voluntarily pause global operations of its 18 cruise ships for two months (60 days), impacting voyages departing March 12 to May 10.

“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,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “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.

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, the company said.

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. To add a bonus incentive for guests to accept this offer, the company 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. Information and instructions for requesting a refund are available online at Princess.com

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

Princess Issues RFP to Clean and Sanitize Diamond Princess

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Princess Cruises announced today a global search for a service provider with advanced, scientifically proven cleaning and disinfection capabilities to perform work onboard the Diamond Princess.

The work will begin after the guests and crew have disembarked, following the quarantine of the ship in Yokohama.

Princess is seeking proposals and estimates from the most technologically advanced service providers in this business, the company said.

The company is in action to manage an extensive out of service cleaning, disinfection and refurbishment period. The exact location of the project will be announced soon.

“Our focus continues to be on the safety and well-being of our guests and crew. We are seeking to identify the best resources to partner with to clean and disinfect the ship from bow to stern,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “To accomplish this critically important undertaking, Princess will engage a vendor that has experience in significant cleaning and disinfection projects and experience in the use of the disinfectant agent Virox®, which is well-known to be an effective disinfectant. The expert use of personal protective equipment is also a requirement for the chosen service provider.”

The company has detailed the areas and requirements for cleaning and disinfecting which include, but are not limited to, the following locations and all surfaces:

• Staterooms: the removal and proper disposal of all towels (bath, face, hand), bed linens, mattress pads, pillows, duvets, shower curtains, and mattresses
• Carpets, draperies, and other soft furnishings
• All corridors and handrails
• Housekeeping storage and service areas
• Galleys, pantries, dishes, service ware
• Restaurant and food and beverage areas
• Entertainment areas
• Public venues (retail shops, spa, salon, fitness centre, etc.)
• Technical and machine spaces
• All crew living areas
• All deck areas and handrails
• Medical Center
• Air handling units and ventilation: Cleaning and disinfecting of air handling units including ducts, fan rooms, coils and systems will be developed by Princess’ Technical Services separately using specialist cleaning contractors.
• All marine, hotel and operations equipment
• Any other areas required after an appropriate assessment

Companies who wish to submit a proposal should be prepared to comply with detailed standards set forth by experts in health protocols and administration such as the Japanese Ministry of Health, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, in addition to the operational standards established by Princess Cruises.