Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz has announced the cruise line will voluntarily pause its global operations of 18 cruise ships for two months, effective 12 March, in response to the ongoing spread of COVID-19. Swartz said it was likely to be the cruise company’s “most difficult decision in its history”.
“By taking this bold action of voluntarily pausing the operations of our ships, it is our intention to reassure our loyal guests, team members and global stakeholders of our commitment to the health, safety and well-being of all who sail with us, as well as those who do business with us, and the countries and communities we visit around the world,” Swartz said.
Guests currently on board a Princess cruise that will end in the next five days will continue to sail as expected. Current voyages that are underway and extend beyond 17 March will be ended at the most convenient location for guests.
In a video shared on YouTube, Swartz said never in Princes Cruises’ past 55 years, and “certainly not in the 20 years that I’ve served in this company, have we been tested in the way we’ve been tested over the past 40 days.”
“We’ve battled this virus on two continents, always with the mission of doing the right thing. [We are] taking care of our guests and teams so they get home safely, while being as transparent with everyone throughout the entire process,” Swartz said.
Swartz said the cruise line remains in the dark as to why it in particular has been dealt such a blow, with Diamond Princess and Grand Princess appearing to be a breeding ground for COVID-19.
Princess is offering impacted guests the opportunity to transfer 100% of the money paid for their cancelled cruise to a future cruise of their choice. A bonus incentive is also offered in the form of an additional future cruise credit benefit. Princess will also honour this offer for those guests who had made final payment and cancelled their booking on or after 4 February, 2020. The future cruise credit can be used on any voyage departing through 1 May, 2022.
Princess will protect travel advisor commissions on bookings for cancelled cruises that were paid in full and for the total amount of the future cruise credits, in recognition of the critical role agents play in the cruise line’s business and success.
If the future cruise credit option does not work for some guests, they will be able to complete an electronic form on the Princess website to request a cash refund.
Guests and their travel advisors will be sent communications on how to manage cancellations and desired compensation. Information and instructions for requesting a refund are available online at Princess.com
Swartz said the decision, while difficult, “is the right one and is in alignment with our company’s core values”
Princess Cruises expects to be back in operation beginning with cruises departing 11 May, 2020.
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