Royal Caribbean Suspends U.S. Cruises, Joining Rivals

March 13 (Reuters) – Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd said on Friday it was suspending its cruises in the United States for 30 days, an hour after Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd said it suspended all its cruise voyages through April 11.

Earlier larger peer Carnival Corp’s Italy-based unit Costa Cruises halted its trips until April 3. Carnival’s other subsidiary Princess Cruises had suspended its voyages for two months on Thursday.

Costa Cruises accounted for 15% of Carnival’s overall capacity as of Nov. 30, offering voyages in Asia and Europe, including the Mediterranean.

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The Princess Cruises unit has been in the spotlight after its Diamond Princess and Grand Princess ships were quarantined after they became hotbeds for coronavirus infections.

Norwegian, however, said no confirmed case of the virus was reported across its 28 ships.

Walt Disney’s Disney Cruise Line and Finland’s Viking Line have also temporarily paused operations as the global cruise industry battles cancellations in the wake of the fast-spreading virus.

The outbreak, described by the World Health Organization as a pandemic, has infected thousands in the Mediterranean countries such as Italy, where it has claimed more than 1,000 lives.

Carnival said it was checking if their guests are aged over 70 years and would deny entry to people with chronic or severe medical conditions.

Separately, credit rating agency S&P Global said it lowered the credit ratings on Carnival and its unsecured debt to ‘BBB’ from ‘A-‘, on expectations of a significant loss in revenue and cash flow in 2020.

Stocks of cruise operators are among the worst hit, with Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean down between 66% and 81% this year through Friday’s close. (Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Krishna Chandra Eluri)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

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.