In a reaction to the coronavirus outbreak in China, which has now spread to other countries, cruise lines operating in Asia are taking steps to protect their guests from the risk of being affected, including cancelling sailings.
Astro Ocean, Costa Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Dream Cruises and Star Cruises have implemented various policies, including temperature checks on passengers.
It has been reported that some ports have also implemented temperature checks, including cruise terminals in Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
As for cancellations, Costa has halted sailings on the ‘Costa Serena’ , ‘Costa Atlantica’ , ‘Costa Venezia’ and ‘Costa neoRomantica’ up to the first part of February.
Costa said in a statement, guests are eligible for a full refund; or can choose an alternative sailing date before the end of the year along with a $50 on board credit.
MSC cancelled the 28th January sailing on the ‘MSC Splendida’ from Shanghai, while Royal Caribbean cancelled its 27th January departure on ‘Spectrum of the Seas’, which was also due to depart from Shanghai.
Travel agencies have been told to stop group tours, which make up most of the Chinese cruise industry, according to local reports. In addition, the ban on Chinese travellers from the region could have an effect on cruise operator’s reliance of China to fill berths for ships sailing in and around Europe, Alaska and North America.
Genting’s Dream Cruises brand has cancelled a turnaround call in Guangzhou for the ‘World Dream’, but will continue to operate from Hong Kong, according to a statement as the 2017-built ship alternates between both homeports.
Astro Ocean Cruises, China’s newest cruise ship company, which recently took delivery of the ‘Piano Land’, ex ‘Oriana’, said last week that it will offer full refunds to passengers that have a fever or have been diagnosed with the virus.
MSC Cruises issued a statement regarding the 28th January sailing of the ‘MSC Splendida’ from Shanghai, which read; “Due to urgent guidelines from the Chinese Government to combat the spread of the coronavirus, MSC Cruises is required to cancel the upcoming cruise with ‘MSC Splendida’ on 28th January. Guests booked on this cruise have the option to receive a full refund of their cruise ticket and port charges, or book an alternative sailing with an equivalent price and receiving additional on board credit – with an embarkation date before the end of the year.
“At the time of writing, ‘MSC Splendida’ is planned to remain in port for the duration of the cruise to 1st February. We will continue to closely monitor the public health and safety situation in China and are consulting with international and local health authorities, as well as the Ministry of Transport of the People’s Republic of China, and strictly follow their advice and recommendations. Guests and Travel Partners have been informed and will be kept abreast of any further changes as the situation evolves,” the company said.