In a statement posted to their website on Thursday, Princess Cruises announced that they would be temporarily and voluntarily suspending their services for 60 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pause will impact voyages departing between March 12 and May 10 and will affect operations of 18 of its cruise ships.
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“Princess Cruises is a global vacation company that serves more than 50,000 guests daily from 70 countries as part of our diverse business, and it is widely known that we have been managing the implications of COVID-19 on two continents,” president of Princess Cruises, Jan Swartz, said in the statement.
“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.”
Passengers that are already onboard a Princess cruise that is set to conclude in the following five days will carry on as scheduled.
Voyages presently underway with an end date that surpasses March 17 will conclude “at the most convenient location for guests,” the statement explains, “factoring in operational requirements.”
Princess Cruises is also offering the opportunity for guests to transfer the money they paid for a now-canceled cruise to a later voyage.
“To add a bonus incentive for guests to accept this offer, the company will add an additional generous future cruise credit benefit which can be applied to the cruise fare or onboard expenses,” the statement explains.
If this new arrangement for a future cruise doesn’t work for customers, or they ultimately decide they don’t want to go on another voyage, they will also be able to fill out a form on the company’s website to request a full refund.
“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,” Swartz said in a video posted to YouTube.
“Rest assured the long-serving and dedicated professionals at our company will make the 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.”
Some may argue that this decision was long overdue, as the Diamond Princess ship, one of the ships in Princess Cruises’ fleet, was one of the first vessels to be significantly impacted by coronavirus following a number of passengers on board who were believed to have caught the virus.
Similarly, another one of Princess Cruises’ vessels, the Grand Princess, also experienced media coverage regarding being parked just outside of San Francisco as the American government debated how to deal with passengers onboard infected with the coronavirus.
“Never in [our] 55 years, and certainly not in the 20 years I have served in this company, have we been tested in the ways we have been tested over the past 40 days,” Swartz said in the video.
“We have battled this virus on two continents. Always with the same mission of doing the right thing: taking care of our guests and team so they get home safely while being as transparent as possible with everyone throughout the entire process. We’ve been asked — and we’ve asked ourselves why COVID-19 seems to be impacting Princess so heavily. We don’t really know. What we do know is that we are the world’s cruise line. As such, our guests, team members, and experiences onboard are a true reflection of the world world.”