Princess has confirmed that, over the past 48 hours, 169 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed onboard the Diamond Princess, which remains under quarantine in Yokohama, Japan. On Saturday, the cruise line also confirmed that the U.S. State Department will provide chartered aircraft to bring all American guests and crew, either citizens or permanent residents, who are currently quarantined onboard the ship back to the United States. The governments of Canada and Australia have made similar announcements.
Voluntary disembarkation of medically vulnerable guests also began over the weekend, with 12 guests in the first group choosing to spend the remainder of their quarantine in a shoreside housing facility. Fifty-five other guests in that group chose to remain onboard. For all guests still onboard Diamond Princess, the cruise line has partnered with World Central Kitchen (WCK), a nonprofit founded by Chef José Andrés. Starting Tuesday, Princess will begin integrating WCK meals into its food service options. The quarantine’s end date remains February 19.
Due to travel restrictions and port closures in Asia, Princess has also announced a number of itinerary modifications. The cruise line will redeploy the Sapphire Princess to Australia six months earlier than previously planned, with 44 new cruises from five major cities. The move will result in the cancellation of sailings out of Shanghai that were scheduled for July 10 through October 7, as well as an October 22 sailing from Fremantle (Perth) to Melbourne. Previously, the cruise line had also cancelled sailings on the ship scheduled from February 13 through June 11. Bookings for the new Sapphire Princess program will open Thursday, February 27.
Sailings on the Diamond Princess out of Yokohama through April 20 have also been cancelled. Princess said that it is preparing for the ship to return to service April 29 for the start of Japan’s annual Golden Week celebrations.
On the Majestic Princess, three sailings departing February 12, 16 and 18 have been modified to now end in Fremantle (Perth) on February 22. On the Sun Princess, scheduled calls to Hong Kong on April 28 and July 14, as well as to Shanghai on May 1 and July 17, have been cancelled and replaced with calls to Incheon (Seoul) and Jeju, South Korea. Additionally, a call to Pago Pago, American Samoa that had been scheduled for June 22 has been replaced with a call to Moorea on June 29.
Guests booked on a cancelled Asia cruise who have cancelled their booking on or after January 20 will receive details on a compensation package in the coming weeks, Princess said.
Holland America Line
Holland America Line’s Westerdam began disembarking guests at the Port of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, on Friday. The cruise line has now cancelled the ship’s February 29 cruise out of Yokohama, offering affected guests a full refund, a 50 percent future cruise credit and reimbursement of cancellation fees. No cancellations for cruises with departure dates March 14 and beyond have been announced at this time.
Seabourn has also cancelled the Seabourn Ovation’s February 29 sailing, which had been scheduled to depart from Singapore. Guests will receive a refund of the cruise fare and prepaid purchases made through the cruise line, including flights, pre- and post-cruise hotel packages and shore excursions, as well as a future cruise credit.
Finally, MSC Cruises has updated the itinerary of the MSC Bellissima’s upcoming 28-night Grand Voyage, which will depart March 21 in Dubai and last through April 28. The updated itinerary will see the cancellation of the port visits to Shenzhen, mainland China; Hong Kong; and Keelung, Taiwan, and the addition of Laem Chabang/Bangkok, Thailand; Phu My/Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; as well as an extra day in Kobe, Japan. In addition, the ship will now also call Sir Bani Yas Island, United Arab Emirates, instead of Khor Fakkan, UAE.
World Health Organization Update
According to the latest situation report from the World Health Organization (WHO), there are now over 71,400 cases of the coronavirus, officially named COVID-19, in 26 countries worldwide. There have been 1,775 people killed by the illness thus far, three of whom were outside of China.
This article originally appeared on www.travelagentcentral.com.