MSC Splendida in Valletta \Harbour photo credit Dave Jones
This story was updated on Monday, January 27 at 8.30am.
Royal Caribbean International and MSC Cruises have cancelled sailings from Shanghai amid concerns over the Chinese coronavirus outbreak.
Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas’ departure on Monday and an MSC Splendida sailing on January 28 have both been pulled.
Quantum-Ultra class ship Spectrum of the Seas was due to sail a four-day Best of Okinawa cruise, but the line has decided to suspend the voyage and is offering affected passengers “full refunds for the cancellation”.
The coronavirus has killed at least 81 people, infected around 3,000 and spread to as many as ten countries outside China.
There have been at least 44 confirmed cases outside China, including in Australia, the USA, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam and France.
The FCO hardened its travel advice over the weekend advising against all travel to Hubei Province, the course of the outbreak. “If you are in this area and able to leave, you should do so,” it said.
Royal Caribbean said on Friday that passengers who had travelled through or were from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus first broke out, would not be allowed to board its ships.
However, the line has now adopted a tougher stance in a bid to protect passengers.
More: Updated: FCO issues travel advice after coronavirus cases in China
Heathrow monitors flights from China amid coronavirus outbreak
Operators monitoring coronavirus crisis as people in the UK are tested
“In light of the latest developments with the coronavirus outbreak in China, we are suspending the January 27 sailing of Spectrum of the Seas, currently our only ship homeported in China,” a spokesperson for the line said.
“We are working with our guests to provide full refunds for the cancellation.
“The health and safety of our guests and crew is our primary concern, and we continue to work with the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and government health authorities to monitor the situation.”
The spectrum of the Seas is scheduled to operate a mix of itineraries across the Far East until midway through 2021.
It is not known whether Royal will cancel more of Spectrum’s sailings beyond Monday due to the virus.
MSC Cruises said: “Due to urgent guidelines from the Chinese government to combat the spread of the coronavirus, MSC Cruises is required to cancel the upcoming cruise with MSC Splendida on 28 January.
“Guests booked on this cruise have the option to receive a full refund of their cruise ticket and port charges, or book an alternative sailing with an equivalent price and receiving additional onboard credit – with an embarkation date before the end of the year.
“At the time of writing, MSC Splendida is planned to remain in port for the duration of the cruise from 28 January until 1 February.
“We will continue to closely monitor the public health and safety situation in China and are consulting with international and local health authorities, as well as the ministry of transport of the People’s Republic of China, and strictly follow their advice and recommendations.
“Guests and travel partners have been informed and will be kept abreast of any further changes as the situation evolves.”
All transport hubs including airports, railway and bus stations, have been closed in the city of Wuhan and travel restrictions are in place in other cities in Hubei Province.
FCO advice states: “Public Health England has offered advice to travellers. You should comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the local authorities.
“For more information and advice, visit the TravelHealthPro website.”
In a further update today, the FCO said: “We are working to make available an option for British nationals to leave Hubei province. If you are a British national in Hubei Province and require assistance, please contact:
· our 24/7 number +86 (0) 10 8529 6600
· or the FCO (+44) (0)207 008 1500
“We continue to monitor developments closely and are in close touch with the Chinese authorities. The safety and security of British nationals is always our primary concern.”