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A year without cruising? Princess becomes first major line to cancel into December

July 22, 2020
5 min read
A year without cruising? Princess becomes first major line to cancel into December
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Say bon voyage to your dreams of cruising in the Caribbean in 2020 -- at least on a Princess ship.

The California-based line on Wednesday said Princess vessels that sail in the Caribbean and many other regions wouldn't sail again until nearly the end of the year.

Citing the "continued progression of COVID-19 and related decisions of various government, health authorities, and airlines regarding travel restrictions," Princess said it had canceled all departures to the Caribbean, California Coast, Hawaii, Mexico, Panama Canal, South America and Antarctica, Asia and the South Pacific through at least Dec. 15.

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The 18-ship line also canceled voyages in and out of Australia on Majestic Princess, Regal Princess, Sapphire Princess, Sea Princess and Sun Princess through Oct. 31.

Until today, Princess only had canceled sailings on some of the ships into September or October.

“We share in our guests’ disappointment in canceling these cruises,” Princess president Jan Swartz said in a statement accompanying the announcement. “We look forward to the days when we can return to travel and the happiness it brings to all who cruise.”

The cancellations come as coronavirus case counts in North America -- the biggest market for Princess sailings -- soar. The U.S. in recent days has been recording more than 60,000 new coronavirus cases a day -- three times the number of just a month ago.

The announcement also comes just days after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended its "no-sail" order for cruise ships operating in U.S. waters by more than two months. The no-sail order is now in effect through Sept. 30.

Related: How to book a cruise with points and miles

A Princess Cruises ship. (Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises)
Princess Cruises operates 18 vessels, most of which now won't sail again with passengers until at least the middle of December. (Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises)

In extending the order, the CDC suggested there was a danger to allowing cruising to resume while coronavirus remained widespread in society.

“On cruise ships, passengers and crew share spaces that are more crowded than most urban settings,” the CDC said in a statement accompanying the order. “Even when only essential crew are on board, ongoing spread of COVID-19 still occurs. If unrestricted cruise ship passenger operations were permitted to resume, passengers and crew on board would be at increased risk of COVID-19 infection.”

The CDC also said that those who work or travel on cruise ships would put “substantial unnecessary risk” on healthcare workers, port personnel, Customs and Border Protection agents and U.S. Coast Guard staff. The people that cruisers come in contact with after returning home also would be put at unnecessary risk, the agency suggested.

Cruise lines around the world halted departures in March as the coronavirus outbreak grew, and many of the biggest lines including Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line already have canceled all or most sailings through the end of September. But Princess is the first of the majors to cancel a wide swath of sailings into December.

Related: Another cruise line shuts down as COVID's impact on cruising grows

The Princess cancellations mean that cruising on many Princess ships is essentially done for 2020. After today, only a handful of 2020 voyages on Princess ships based in North America, Asia and South America will remain on the books.

Princess said passengers with bookings on the canceled trips who have paid in full will have the option of a full refund or future cruise credits in the amount of 125% of what they paid.

Passengers who have not yet paid in full can choose between a refund or a credit worth twice the amount of the deposit that they paid.

The credits must be used by May 1, 2022. Requests for refunds must be submitted by Aug. 31.

Related: Why you shouldn't take a voucher when your cruise is canceled

While many major lines have pushed back their return to operations until at least October, a few lines are hoping to resume sailings in select areas around the world earlier. Indeed, a handful of lines -- mostly river lines -- already have restarted sailings in Europe. For now, the trips only are available to local travelers from select European countries.

The restart to some cruising in Europe comes in the wake of a sharp drop in coronavirus case counts across the continent over the past few months. Germany this week has been recording fewer than 600 new confirmed cases a day -- a tiny fraction of the number recorded in the U.S.

Additional resources for cruisers during the coronavirus outbreak:

Featured image by Mark Katzman

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