Covid-19-hit cruise operator cancels all journeys

Covid-19-hit cruise company Princess Cruises has cancelled all of its trips for the next two months as the deadly disease continues to spread.

The company said that it was pausing the global operations of all of its 18 cruise ships, that carry around 50,000 guests every day.

The company, which has seen more than 700 passengers test positive for the virus, said that it was acting out of “an abundance of caution”.

“It is widely known that we have been managing the implications of Covid-19 on two continents,” said Jan Swartz, the firm’s president.

“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,” she added.

Princess is owned by London-listed Carnival whose shares dropped by a fifth on Thursday.

Passengers on Princess cruiseliners will be able to continue as usual if their journeys end within the next five days.

However they will need to make other plans if there is more time left on the trip.

Those whose holidays have been cancelled will be able to transfer all of the money they paid to a future cruise.

They can also ask for a cash refund.

The first Briton to die of Covid-19 was a passenger on the Diamond Princess, which was quarantined in Japan in February.

Almost 700 of the passengers and crew have tested positive for the virus, and seven have died.

Meanwhile 21 passengers on the Grand Princess, which is off the coast of California, have tested positive for Covid-19.

“Never in 55 years … have we been tested in the ways that we have been tested over the past 40 days,” Ms Swartz said in a video posted to YouTube.

“We have battled this virus on two continents,” she added.

“We have been asked – and we’ve asked ourselves – why Covid-19 seems to be impacting Princess so heavily.

“We don’t really know.”