Cruise lines Princess and Viking halt all cruises as coronavirus spreads

Coronavirus

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN – FEBRUARY 19: The Diamond Princess cruise ship which is anchored at Daikoku Pier of the Yokohama Port is seen prior to quarantined passengers disembark on February 19, 2020 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. Only passengers who had tested negative and showed no symptoms of infection, such as fever or coughs, were allowed to leave. Among the 3,711 passengers and crew, 542 people were found to be infected with the new coronavirus as of February 18, although nearly half of them displayed no symptoms. Authorities said 2,404 people took the virus test and that 25 people are in serious condition. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

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(CNN) — Princess Cruises will halt global operations of its 18 cruise ships for two months, after two of its ships carried passengers who were diagnosed with the coronavirus.

The move came after another cruise ship operator, Viking, announced it would also suspend all ocean and river cruises until May 1. Viking has 16 ocean-going ships and more than 70 vessels overall.

No part of the travel industry has been hit harder by the coronavirus outbreak than the cruise industry. Demand for cruises has fallen dramatically. Health authorities have urged the elderly not to take cruises, which could expose them to the virus.

Princess Cruises said that it will suspend operations within the next five days. It will, however, continue to sail through the end of its ships’ current itineraries so that passengers’ travel arrangements are not disrupted. Current voyages that are underway and extend beyond March 17 will end at what the company determines to be the most convenient location for guests to disembark.

The Grand Princess cruise ship, which docked this week in Oakland, had 19 passengers and two crew members diagnosed with coronavirus. At least two passengers aboard the the Diamond Princess, which docked in Japan last month, have died from the coronavirus, according to health authorities. More than 700 people who were on board tested positive for the virus.

Shares of Carnival Corp., which owns the Princess line, plunged 15% in early trading on the news. Shares were already down 57% so far this year through Wednesday’s close. Its ships are still sailing.

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