Major Cruise Lines Take 'Bold Action' Amid Virus Outbreak

Viking, Princess Cruises suspend global operations following travel advisory
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2020 10:30 AM CDT
Major Cruise Lines Shut Down
A Coast Guard patrol boat keeps watch on the Grand Princess cruise ship while docked in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

With the State Department warning Americans not to travel by cruise ship, two cruise lines are temporarily shutting down. Viking Cruises announced Thursday that it would suspend all operations in response to the coronavirus outbreak. It's "what is best for our guests and our employees," Chairman Torstein Hagen said in a letter to passengers, noting 29 passengers aboard a Southeast Asia river cruise had been quarantined after exposure to the virus, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Continuing to operate "involves significant risks of quarantines or medical detentions," Hagen said, noting major ports are being restricted or closed altogether. Carnival's Princess Cruises—whose Diamond Princess and Grand Princess ships were recently quarantined off the coasts of Japan and San Francisco—quickly followed suit, per CNBC.

Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz said the "bold action" to dock its 18 ships until at least May 10 was meant "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." Current passengers will have until Tuesday to disembark. The company is offering full credit on a future trip to anyone booked on a cruise before the end of May, per the New York Times. The outlet reports other cruise lines—including some operated by Carnival—are setting sail as scheduled after agreeing to "enhance their entry and exit screenings, establish shipboard testing for the coronavirus, [and] coordinate new quarantine standards for all ships with the CDC." (Princess Cruises is already facing a lawsuit.)

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