Royal Caribbean is suspending all U.S. cruises at midnight on Friday in response to the spreading coronavirus.
Cruises leaving U.S. ports before midnight will keep operating, and those still at sea will complete their itineraries, the company said. International cruises will not be affected. Royal Caribbean previously canceled cruises departing from China and tried to deny boarding to anyone traveling through the country. where the virus first started to spread.”We understand the gravity of the public health crisis confronting the country. And this is our part to play,” the company said in a statement.
The latest move comes a day after Princess Cruises said it was halting service on all 18 of its cruise ships for 60 days. Viking cruise lines also announced it would suspend all river and ocean cruises until April 30.”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,” Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz said.
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Cruise lines have been battered during the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 130,000 people worldwide and killed more than 5,000. Shares of Royal Caribbean have fallen 75% over two months. Carnival Cruise Line, which owns Princess Cruises, has seen its stock price 65%. Princess Cruises has struggled to contain outbreaks on its Diamond Princess and Grand Princess ships. Nearly 700 people contracted the coronavirus on the Diamond Princess, where they were quarantined in a Japanese port. At least 21 passengers on the Grand Princess tested positive for the virus while the ship was moored off the coast of California.Princess Cruises customers whose trips are canceled will be issued credit that can be used on a future cruise though May 1, 2022, the company said. They also may request a cash refund. Viking customers will also receive either a credit for future use or a full refund.
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The State Department this week advised Americans to avoid cruises in light of the coronavirus outbreak. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also urged people to “defer all cruise ship travel worldwide.”In a sign of the financial battering the cruise industry is taking, Royal Caribbean told CBS MoneyWatch it is laying off contract workers for “special projects” in order to “reduce operating expenses.”