SANTA CLARITA — Princess Cruises has announced it is suspending all operations across its entire fleet for two months, until May 10.
The policy extends to all 18 Princess ships, around the world.
“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,” said Jan Swartz, President of Princess Cruises.
“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 currently onboard a cruise that will end in the next five days will continue to sail as expected through the end of the itinerary.
Current sailings that are underway and extend beyond March 17 “will be ended at the most convenient location for guests, factoring in operational requirements.”
Princess says it will do everything possible to return each passenger home “with the greatest amount of care possible”.
“During this time, our operations and medical teams across the fleet will remain vigilant in their care and service for guests and crew onboard.”
The statement continues: “For those who are impacted by this business decision, Princess is offering guests the opportunity to transfer 100% of the money paid for their cancelled cruise to a future cruise of their choice.”
To add a bonus incentive for guests to accept this offer, the company says it will add an additional future cruise credit (FCC) which can be applied to the cruise fare or onboard expenses.
In addition, Princess says it will honour this offer for those passengers who had made final payment and cancelled their booking on or after February 4, 2020.
The FCC can be used on any voyage departing through May 1, 2022.
Princess says it will protect agent 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 they play in the cruise line’s business and success”.
Passengers who decline the FCC option will be able to complete an electronic form on Princess.com to request a cash refund.
Princess asks passengers not to call the Reservation Call Center “due to the possibility of high call volumes and the potential of long on-hold wait times due to this unprecedented action.”
The cruise line says passengers and their travel agents 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
In a video posted on YouTube, Jan Swartz says: “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. Rest assured the long-serving and dedicated professionals at our company will make 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.”
She adds: “Loyal guests, employees, travel advisor partners and business partners around the world have asked what they can do support Princess Cruises and its more than 35,000 team members in these challenging times. The answer is simple – book a cruise with Princess and bring your family and friends along. The company offers over 180 itineraries to popular and exotic destinations around the globe.”
Princess Cruises plans to be back in operation beginning with cruises departing May 11, 2020.
In an industry impacted by the coronavirus, the cruise industry is among the hardest hit, and Princess in particular. The world watched in February as the Diamond Princess was quarantined off the coast of Japan, followed by Grand Princess off California in March.