Princess Cruises is to voluntarily cease operations of its 18 cruise ships for 60 days, while Viking Cruises is to suspend all of its ocean and river cruises until the beginning of May.
This is in response to the unpredictable circumstances evolving from the global spread of Covid-19, Princess said.
Those currently on board a Princess cruise that will end in the next five days will continue to sail as expected through the end of the itinerary so that onward travel arrangements are not disrupted.
Current voyages that are underway and extend beyond 17th March will stop at the most convenient location for guests, factoring in operational requirements.
“While this is a difficult business decision, we firmly believe it is the right one and is in alignment with our company’s core values. Rest assured the long-serving and dedicated professionals at our company will make best use of this time to prepare Princess Cruises’ fleet of cruise ships for a successful return to operation to serve our guests by delivering an exceptional vacation experience,” Princess CEO, Jan Swartz, said in a video post.
Meanwhile, Viking Cruises has suspended all its ocean and river trips until May after three UK citizens tested positive on one of its river vessels in Cambodia last week.
The company said there were ‘significant risks’ of quarantines or medical detentions, after a spate of virus scares at sea in recent weeks.
“I am writing because the situation has now become such that operating as a travel company involves significant risks of quarantines or medical detentions, which could diminish the travel experiences for which our guests have been planning,” Viking Cruises founder Torstein Hagen said in a letter posted online.
“In recent days we have had an experience where a river cruise guest in Southeast Asia was exposed to COVID-19 while in transit on an international airline,” he said.
Hagen said that a number of ports, including Venice, Monte Carlo and Bergen, had temporarily closed to cruise ships together with other major attractions across the globe shut.
“We have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend operations of our river and ocean vessels embarking from 12th March to 30th April – at which time we believe Viking will be in a better place to provide the experiences our guests expect and deserve.
“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,” Hagen concluded.
In addition, Disney and WindStar have temporarily stopped sailings at least to the end of this month.