Princess, Cunard, Holland America and Royal Caribbean Give Coronavirus Updates

A small boat navigates near a cruise ship Diamond Princess anchoring off the Yokohama Port.
More cases of confirmed coronavirus for guests on Diamond Princess are now being reported by Princess Cruises. // Photo by AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko via Newscred.

Over the weekend, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Cunard Line, Royal Caribbean International and others issued updates on the impact of coronavirus on specific ships or, alternatively, changes in schedules related to the virus situation.

In what's become almost a "blanket" policy throughout the cruise industry, these and other lines are also barring boarding of any guest or crew member who has traveled to China, Macau, Hong Kong or Taiwan within the past two weeks; has been in contact during the past two weeks with someone who is or is suspected of being a coronavirus patient; or personally is showing symptoms of the diseases. Strict medical protocols are under way. 

Additionally, Royal Caribbean is denying boarding to all holders of passports from China, Macau and Hong Kong. 

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises confirmed an additional 66 cases of coronavirus as tested by the Japanese Ministry of Health on Diamond Princess.

Forty-five of the confirmed coronavirus cases were guests from Japan, while four were from Australia, one case from Canada and 11 cases were from the United States.  Other confirmed cases were as follows: United Kingdom (one), Japan (45), three from the Philippines, one from Ukraine, and 11 from the United States

Princess said it's following guidance from the Japan Ministry of Health on plans for disembarkation protocols to provide medical care for these new cases. Its statement also said:

  • "Since it is early in the quarantine period of 14 days, it was not unexpected that additional cases would be reported involving individuals who were exposed prior to the start of the quarantine. 
  • "The Japan Ministry of Health has been the lead public health authority defining the testing protocols for all guests and crew on Diamond Princess. Questions on the timeline, test results and reporting protocols should be directed to them.
  • The quarantine end date remains at February 19, unless there are any unforeseen developments. 

The line also said additional information will be shared as soon as it is made available to use by the Ministry of Health. 

Over the weekend, Princess also outlined policies related to guest compensation related to the current Diamond Princess cruise. That statement of February 9 read as follows:

"Because of the extraordinary circumstances onboard Diamond Princess, Princess Cruises will refund the full cruise fare for all guests including air travel, hotel, ground transportation, pre-paid shore excursions, gratuities and other items. In addition, guests will not be charged for any onboard incidental charges during the additional time onboard," the statement said. 

In addition, the statement continued: "Princess Cruises will also provide guests with a future cruise credit equal to the cruise fare paid for the voyage which ended on February 4."

The line also said that although all gratuities will be refunded back to guests "the company will ensure crew members will receive their designated gratuities for the work performed." 

A letter was delivered to all staterooms of Diamond Princess' guests with details on how to process the cruise fare refund.  

Holland America Line 

Holland America Line said today that Westerdam (which had been refused entry to a number of alternative ports in Asia this past week), is now is sailing for Laem Chabang (Bangkok), Thailand, where the current cruise that departed February 1 will end on Thursday, February 13. 

Guests will disembark in Laem Chabang and transfer to Bangkok for their forward travel home. The line said the new schedule has been communicated to guests onboard. Originally, that cruise was set to disembark guests February 15 in Yokohama, Japan

Currently, Westerdam is on a 14-day cruise that departed Hong Kong on February 1. There are 1,455 guests and 802 crew on board. No cases of coronavirus have been reported onboard. 

The Holland America statement said:

  • "All guests will receive a 100 percent refund for the 14-day sailing, as well as a 100 percent Future Cruise Credit. Complimentary Internet and phone access is available for guests and crew to stay in contact with loved ones.
  • The ship is not in quarantine and we have no reason to believe there are any cases of coronavirus onboard the ship despite media reports.
  • We have also received a letter from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment affirming that they have full confidence in all our medical reporting and the quality of our medical staff and services on Westerdam. This assessment was done in concert with the Ministry of Health of the Netherlands.
  • Following the disembarkation of guests, Westerdam will depart Laem Chabang. The future voyage plan between cruises is still being finalized.
  • The February 15 cruise scheduled to embark in Yokohama has been cancelled. No cancellations for cruises with departure dates beyond February 15 have been announced at this time.
  • However, we are assessing the impact of current port restrictions in Asia on cruises departing February 29 or later. We will communicate details as they become finalized in the next few days.
  • The latest information will continue to be posted under the News & Travel Advisory section of hollandamerica.com.

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean International found out some good news on Saturday night from the New Jersey Health Authority. Test results received from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for some sick guests on Anthem of the Seas' most recent sailing "were negative for the novel coronavirus." 

So, the line told guests originally scheduled to sail on the Friday, February 7 cruise to the Bahamas that it would instead depart today, Monday, February 10. Guests were also given the opportunity to board yesterday, on February 9 if they so chose, while the ship remained docked at Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ.

The original itinerary included port calls at Port Canaveral for Space Coast/Orlando activities; the Perfect Day at CocoCay, the line's private island experience in the Bahamas; and a call at Nassau, Bahamas.

Now, the ship is expected to sail from Cape Liberty today, spend a day at sea, then call for one and a half more days at King's Wharf, Bermuda, have another day at sea and return, as scheduled, on Saturday, February 15.

The line said in a statement on its website that the schedule was changed because there simply wasn't time for the Nassau port call. With the previous schedule, "we wouldn't arrive into Nassau until around 3 p.m. and would need to depart later that evening to make our way back to Cape Liberty – not a great experience." 

So, the line said in a statement on its website: "Given that our goal is to provide you with the best vacation possible, we made the decision to sail to Bermuda, where you’ll have more than a day and a half in port to explore. Plus, the weather forecast is looking favorable in Bermuda during our visit.

"We know how much you were looking forward to beginning your vacation, and we cannot apologize enough for the impact this situation has caused," the statement continued. "But we can try to make up for it."

Royal Caribbean also issued an updated compensation plan for guests who choose to join the ship on its new itinerary. They'll receive a 50 percent refund, which will be added to the guest's onboard account as a refundable onboard credit. It will also provide guests on the cruise departing today with a 50 percent future cruise credit.

Those who've purchased an Internet or beverage package, unlimited dining package, or pre-paid their gratuities will receive a prorated refund as a credit for the three days the cruise was shortened by; that will show up in the guest's onboard account. Pre-purchased RCL shore trips for the impacted ports will also be refunded to that onboard acccount.

Also, Crown & Anchor Society members will receive loyalty points for the full eight-night cruise they purchased, not the shortened cruise.

Royal Caribbean said that all credits applied to the guest's onboard account can be used anywhere onboard, and any unused credits will be refunded back to the guest's credit card on file about three to five business days after the sailing ends.

But the line's statement also said:

  • "If you choose not to sail, we completely understand and you may cancel and receive a full refund.
  • "You do not need to do anything to cancel, no need to call or contact us for this, as we want to make it as easy for you as possible. If you do not show up to the pier, we will understand that you decided not join us and we will automatically process your refund. 
  • "You should see it on your account three to five days after our updated departure."

Those who took flights to reach the embarkation port (and thus arrived too early to board) can receive up to $200 per stateroom per night toward hotel accommodations. '

RCI also said: "If you decide to cancel, and flew in, we will assist you with air change fees to get you back home. We will cover $200 USD per person for domestic flights or $400 USD per person for international flights." Guests should send receipts to [email protected] for reimbursement.

And, if guests booked their airfare through Royal Caribbean, and desire to cancel their cruise, the cruise line will help reschedule return flights home. 

Cunard Line 

On February 9, Cunard Line made changes to schedules for both Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth in Asia, eliminating embarkation in Singapore and port calls in Hong Kong or Shanghai. In a statement the line said:

  • Queen Mary 2 is now sailing directly to Fremantle, Australia, arriving on February 18. She will set sail from Fremantle on an Australian itinerary, details of which will follow.
  • “If you were due to join Queen Mary 2 in Singapore on 12/13 or 18/19 February you have the option to join in Fremantle on 18/19 February.
  • “Should you be on a shorter voyage from Singapore on 12/13 February your voyage will be automatically cancelled at no charge.
  • “If you are due to join the ship in Singapore on 12/13 or 18/19 February and you have booked your flights with us, we will organize all alternative flights on your behalf at no extra charge. You also have the option of cancelling your holiday at no cost.
  • “If you did not book your flights with us, we advise that your flights would need to be re-routed or cancelled as required, and you should make a claim on your travel insurance where charges have been incurred
  • “If you are unable to recover charges incurred due to this unavoidable and unexpected change, we would encourage you to contact us upon your return.”

In addition, Cunard said that Queen Elizabeth will not call at Hong Kong on March 31 nor at Shanghai on April 4, and that details of that revised itinerary will be announced soon.

Seabourn

For Seabourn Sojourn in Asia, in light of new restrictions throughout the region on travelers coming from or traveling through Hong Kong, the ship will no longer call in Hong Kong on April 3, 2020. Itinerary revisions are currently being confirmed and details of the revised itineraries will be communicated to guests and travel advisors as soon as possible, the cruise line said.

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