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All Major Cruise Lines Agree to Suspend Operations Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

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Virgin Voyages has announced that the new adult-only cruise line will not be launching in April as originally planned.

Courtesy of Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages has announced that the new adult-only cruise line will not be launching in April as originally planned.

The cruising industry has hit pause on sailings for at least 30 days. Virgin Voyages is pushing back its launch as well.

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This is a developing story. For up-to-date information on traveling during the coronavirus outbreak, visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

The world’s largest group of cruise lines has agreed to suspend cruise ship operations from U.S. ports for 30 days as public health officials continue to address the global coronavirus pandemic.

“[Our] cruise line members are voluntarily and temporarily suspending operations from the U.S. as we work to address this public health crisis,” Kelly Craighead, president and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), said in a statement.

CLIA consists of more than 50 domestic and international cruise lines, including some of the largest and most well-known lines, such as Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Line, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn, Silversea Cruises, and Windstar Cruises.

The announcement came after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that it recommends that travelers—particularly those with underlying health issues—defer all cruise ship travel worldwide, and that cruise ship passengers are at increased risk of the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

“This is an unprecedented situation,” added Craighead. “This has been a challenging time, but we hope that this decision will enable us to focus on the future and a return to normal as soon as possible.”

The temporary suspension went into effect on March 14, 2020.

Viking Cruises cancels sailings until May 1

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CLIA’s decision came just two days after Viking Cruises became the first cruise line to announce that it will suspend all of its sailings until May 1, citing the significant risks of passengers facing quarantines or isolation due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a decision we made with a heavy heart, but with present circumstances what they are, we are unable to deliver the high-quality Viking experience for which we are known,” Viking chairman Torstein Hagen said in a statement.

Hagen noted that the coronavirus outbreak has made travel “exceedingly complicated,” including the fact that a growing number of ports have temporarily closed to cruise ships, that many major attractions the world over are closed, and that countries are placing restrictions on public gatherings and visitors. Viking, which operates a fleet of 79 ocean and river ships, is offering guests who were due to cruise between now and May 1 a future cruise credit of 125 percent of the total that had already been paid to Viking or a full refund.

One day after Viking’s announcement, Princess Cruises—which has had two ships, the Diamond Princess in Japan and the Grand Princess in San Francisco, make headlines due to coronavirus outbreaks onboard—said that it will pause global operations of its 18 cruise ships for 60 days, canceling all cruises departing March 12 to May 10, 2020.

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“It is widely known that we have been managing the implications of COVID-19 on two continents,” stated Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “While this is a difficult business decision, we firmly believe it is the right one,” Swartz added.

Princess said it will allow passengers on canceled cruises to transfer 100 percent of the money paid to the cruise line to a future cruise (and Princess will add a “generous” future cruise credit to that but didn’t say how much). Guests will also be able to request a cash refund.

River cruise line Avalon Waterways has suspended sailings through April 30, and river cruise line AmaWaterways has suspended cruises through April 25, 2020.

A launch delay for Virgin

Virgin Voyages, the new Richard Branson–backed, adult-only cruise line that was supposed to launch in April, has pushed that back as well. The inaugural sailing season for the line’s first vessel, Scarlet Lady, will kick off in mid-July with the maiden voyage now slated for August 7, 2020.

“At this time, much of our attention is focused, rightly, on the current global health crisis. We understand that this is affecting us all in different ways and making many people rethink upcoming cruise plans,” Branson and Virgin Voyages CEO Tom McAlpin said in a joint statement.

Customers on canceled cruises can ask for a 200 percent future credit, as well as an additional $500 onboard credit, if they rebook before June 30, 2020. They can also request a full refund plus 25 percent future cruise credit for a future booking.

This article was originally published on March 13, 2020, and has been updated to reflect current information.

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