The disembarkation process for guests on Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess begins today. The ship had been quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, since early February after a guest tested positive for coronavirus.
The governments of Canada, Australia and Hong Kong are all transporting their respective citizens home via charter flights, after which they will be required to undergo an additional 14 days of quarantine. The U.S. State Department repatriated 300 guests via a charter flight on February 16; 14 of these passengers tested positive for the coronavirus, and they were moved to a specialized containment area on the aircraft. Upon landing, all passengers were placed under quarantine for an additional 14 days.
The disembarkation process for those who are not taking government repatriation flights starts today, February 19, and it will continue over the next several days as passengers are tested for the virus. These tests can take two to three days. Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz is in Japan with other team members to support the operation.
Working in coordination with the Japanese Ministry of Health, Princess Cruises will be monitoring the progress of guests who have contracted the coronavirus and offering them travel assistance upon their recovery and certification by Japanese health authorities. Additionally, all guests onboard the ship will be refunded their full cruise fare, including air travel, hotel, ground transportation, pre-paid shore excursions, gratuities and other items. Additionally, guests have not been charged for any onboard incidental charges during their additional time onboard. Finally, the cruise line will provide guests with a future cruise credit equal to their cruise fare.
Earlier this week Princess had announced a number of cruise itinerary cancellations and modifications due to the quarantine, as well as ongoing port restrictions in Asia due to the outbreak. Sailings on the Diamond Princess out of Yokohama have been cancelled through April 20, with the ship scheduled to return April 29 for the start of Japan’s annual Golden Week celebrations. The Sapphire Princess will redeploy to Australia six months earlier than planned; bookings for that ship’s new program will open Thursday, February 27. Sailings on the Majestic Princess and Sun Princess have been modified to replace calls to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Pago Pago with calls to Incheon (Seoul) and Jeju, South Korea, and Moorea.
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.
There are currently over 73,300 cases of the coronavirus, officially named COVID-19, in 26 countries worldwide, according to the latest update from the World Health Organization (WHO). There have been 1,870 people killed by the illness thus far, three of them outside of China.
This article originally appeared on www.travelagentcentral.com.