World’s major cruise liner companies have pulled their planned sailings from Shanghai amid efforts to mitigate the potential spread of the coronavirus.
“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 January 28,” an MSC Cruises spokesperson confirmed to World Maritime News.
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 onboard credit – with an embarkation date before the end of the year.
As informed, MSC Splendida is planned to remain in port for the duration of the cruise from January 28, until February 1.
“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 statement reads.
Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas, which was scheduled to depart today from Shanghai on its four-day Brest of Okinawa Cruise has also been canceled.
“In light of the latest developments with the Coronavirus outbreak in China, we are suspending the January 27 and January 31 sailings of Spectrum of the Seas, currently our only ship homeported in China,” the company said in a statement.
“We are working with our guests to provide full refunds for the cancellation. The health and safety of our guests and crew is our primary concern, and we continue to work with the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and government health authorities to monitor the situation.”
Furthermore, Costa Cruises has suspended nine of its planned sailings on four of its ships: Costa Serena, Costa Atlantica, Costa Venezia and Costa neoRomantica, which were planned to take place from Jan. 25 to Feb. 4.
The move is in line with the “Urgent notice to suspend the operation of tourist enterprises on the prevention and control of pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus” issued by the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Costa Cruises will be offering a full refund of the cruise fare and port fees to impacted guests or the opportunity to reschedule their trips receiving a USD 50 on-board credit for each ticket as compensation.
“All the other cruises are confirmed and, should the situation change, Costa Cruises will take all the necessary actions to preserve the health of its guests and crew members,” the company said.
A spokesperson of Coast Cruises told World Maritime News that the company has introduced additional measures on its cruises during this period, including pre-boarding health questionnaires to all guests holding a passport from Chinese Mainland / Taiwan / Hongkong as well as medical screening of guests, crew and visitors, as necessary.
“Anyone who has an illness of international public health concern will not be permitted to sail,” the statement reads.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, said that to date there have been no reported cases of coronavirus onboard the CLIA cruise fleet or affecting cruise operations.
“We are monitoring the situation closely, including via the WHO, which does not currently recommend any restriction of travel or trade as a result of the coronavirus. As with any trip, whether by land, air or sea, travelers should check with public health authorities to be informed regarding health matters at the destinations they will visit, and exercise appropriate precautions, “
“Additionally, cruise lines take precautions to screen passengers for illness prior to boarding, and all ships are fitted with medical facilities and onboard medical personnel 24/7 to treat passengers swiftly in the event of illness and prevent further transmission.”
It is not clear how will the cruise sector in Asia be impacted by these cancellations and how long will these measures be in place. Nevertheless, the extent of the outbreak is still being determined and we are seeing numbers of infections increasing by the hour.
The coronavirus outbreak, stemming from the inland city, Wuhan, Hubei province, has spread to some of China’s port cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Tianjin. The virus outbreak coincides with the Chinese New Year in the last week of January when large population movements from China are expected.
As such, additional cases have been identified in a growing number of countries internationally such as South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore as well as one case in the United States.
Over 2,800 cases of coronavirus have been reported so far in China, and the death toll has risen to 80 people, the Shanghai List reports citing the country’s officials.
Countries across the globe are undertaking medical screenings of people coming from China to counter further spreading of the virus. However, the number of infection cases is expected to rise.
World Maritime News Staff