Passengers aboard the Grand Princess celebrate as they arrive in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, March 9. The cruise ship, which had maintained a holding pattern off the coast for days, is carrying multiple people who tested positive for COVID-19, a disease caused by the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Princess Cruises, Viking Cruises pause global operations due to COVID-19

Cruise line implements 60-day pause in wake of COVID-19 virus

Two major cruise lines have cancelled operations worldwide due to COVID-19.

Princess Cruises announced a 60-day pause to global ship operations on Thursday, while Viking Cruises have suspended routes till May 1.

The international cruise line says the decision is a voluntary and proactive response “to the unpredictable circumstances evolving from the global spread of COVID-19.”

Princess Cruises operates 18 ships and serves more than 50,000 guests daily. Operations will be paused from March 12 to May 10.

READ ALSO: Cruise lines bring in ‘stringent’ measures to prevent COVID-19 transmission amid outbreaks

“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.”

Four Princess Cruises ships were scheduled to arrive in Victoria during that time period, the first on April 3. The company plans to be back in operation beginning with cruises departing May 11. Barring changes, the first scheduled arrival from Princess Cruise Lines will be May 11 from Ketchikan.

The temporary operations ban comes after 15 people tested positive for COVID-19 aboard the Grand Princess off the California coast. Passengers, including 228 Canadians, have been placed in a 14-day quarantine at CFB Trenton in Quinte West, Ont. The Grand Princess was supposed to be in Victoria on April 3, after docking in Vancouver on April 2.

With Princess Cruises cancelled, the first port-of-call for Victoria is April 10, when the Holland America Line’s Eurodam is scheduled to arrive from Vancouver. As of Thursday, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority had not cancelled the arrival of any scheduled cruise ships.

In a statement Monday afternoon, the Port of Vancouver said it was “actively monitoring” the Canadian and global responses to COVID-19 but deferred further comment to the feds.

The cruise ship industry has implemented stringent measures to prevent the spread of the global virus, including enhanced screening protocols and denying entry to passengers and crews who had travelled to specific destinations.

READ ALSO: 228 Canadians from cruise ship Grand Princess begin quarantine at CFB Trenton

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