Skip to content

New cruises rerouted as coronavirus situation escalates

Jan. 29, 2020
6 min read
New cruises rerouted as coronavirus situation escalates
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information. It was originally published on Jan. 27.

Add Holland America and Seabourn Cruise Line to the list of cruise companies altering itineraries in Asia as fears grow about the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.

Holland American on Wednesday said nearly all China stops scheduled for its Asia-based Westerdam through March 28 have been canceled.

The 1,404-passenger vessel will depart Hong Kong as scheduled on Saturday on a 14-night Asia voyage, but the sailing no longer will end in Shanghai on Feb. 15. Instead, the cruise will conclude in Yokohama, Japan -- the port for Tokyo. All subsequent sailings through March 28 will begin and end in Yokohoma instead of Shanghai or Hong Kong.

The voyages had been scheduled to include calls at such Chinese ports as Qingdao and Tianjin (the port for Beijing) but now will focus on Japan and South Korea.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Westerdam cruises after March 28 were planned without ports in China and will sail as scheduled.

Seabourn has canceled a call in Xiamen, China, scheduled for Monday by its 600-passenger Seabourn Ovation. Instead, the vessel will visit Sandakan, Malaysia, several days later.

The itinerary changes are notable as they're the first for cruise ships that cater heavily to the North American market.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Nearly half a dozen cruise lines including Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises began canceling voyages out of mainland China over the weekend. But the sailings that were canceled were primarily aimed at the local Chinese market.

In a statement to The Points Guy, Holland America cited a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel warning issued Monday as the catalyst for the Westerdam itinerary changes. The Level 3 warning recommends all travelers avoid any nonessential travel to China.

Holland America said it would rebook flights for Westerdam passengers affected by the changes if the passengers had arranged air through the line's Flight Ease program. Instead of being routed to and from Shanghai and Hong Kong, the passengers will be flown to and from Tokyo. Holland America said passengers who arranged their own flights to meet the ship should contact their airlines directly to change their routings. The line noted most airlines have waived change fees for flights in and out of China.

A spokesperson for Seabourn did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Seabourn Ovation itinerary change.

The list of ships that have stopped sailing out of China this week include Royal Caribbean's giant, Shanghai-based Spectrum of the Seas -- one of the world's 10 biggest cruise vessels. It's the only Royal Caribbean ship currently sailing out of China.

Royal Caribbean's giant Spectrum of the Seas, shown here in Hong Kong, currently sails to Japan out of Shanghai. The ship debuted in 2019. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Other China-based ships that have halted operations for now include MSC Cruises' MSC Splendida and four Costa Cruises vessels. The lines have been offering customers full refunds.

Other ships catering to North Americans that are scheduled to arrive in China in the coming weeks include Oceania Cruises' Nautica and Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Millennium. For now, the lines have not announced itinerary changes.

Related: The best credit cards for booking cruises

While mainland China-based ships have stopped sailing this week, cruises from Hong Kong still are departing. The departures continue even as some attractions and venues in the city, such as Hong Kong Disneyland, have closed.

In light of the outbreak, cruise lines across the globe have implementing stepped-up screening procedures for passengers boarding ships, including temperature checks for those coming from affected areas (This is how airports are screening travelers for this coronavirus.)

Some lines, such as Royal Caribbean, are denying boarding to passengers who have traveled to China's Hubei Province on all their ships worldwide. Hubei Province is home to the city of Wuhan, which has been at the center of the outbreak. Royal Caribbean this week also said it had temporarily postponed the return of crew who reside in China to its ships.

Cruise lines have expanded rapidly in China over the past decade with sailings that mostly are aimed at the Chinese market. While sailings out of Shanghai on Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas are bookable on the line's U.S. website, the trips have been designed with the Chinese traveler in mind. The vessel operates short, four- to seven-night getaways to Japan.

MSC Splendida's round-trip voyages out of Shanghai aren't even bookable on the line's U.S. website. Costa Cruises' China-based ships also aren't bookable from North America.

Costa Cruises is the line most affected by the outbreak so far. A division of cruise giant Carnival Corp., it already has canceled nine sailings from the Chinese ports of Shanghai, Shenzhen, Sanya and Tianjin scheduled to depart through Feb. 2.

Related: Myth-busting: Will a face mask keep you safe from viruses on a plane?

Such widespread cancellations of cruises from an entire region are rare. The situation recalls the widespread cancellations of cruises out of Florida that occurred in 2017 as Hurricane Irma approached the state. More than a dozen sailings from major lines were canceled at the time.

The Wuhan coronavirus is part of a family of viruses that includes everything from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. Symptoms include nasal congestion, headache, cough, sore throat and fever.

As of Wednesday morning, the virus -- officially called 2019-nCoV -- had killed 132 people in China, according to government figures. There had been more than 6,000 confirmed cases.

Featured image by GRAHAM UDEN

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees