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Cruise lines suspending trips for 30 days, cruise association says

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Carnival, whose Carnival Panorama is based in Long Beach, said Friday it is temporarily suspending cruises for 30 days along with several competitors.
(Jim Edwards)

Cruise lines from U.S. ports will suspend service for the next 30 days, Cruise Lines International Assn. said Friday.

The trade organization called the decision, a reaction to growing alarm over coronavirus, voluntary and temporary.

The suspension begins early Saturday, the association, known as CLIA, said.

Kelly Craighead, CLIA’s president and chief executive, called the announcement from the Miami-based trade association “unprecedented.”

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“CLIA cruise line members are voluntarily and temporarily suspending operations from the U.S. as we work to address this public health crisis,” said Craighead in a statement. “This has been a challenging time, but we hope that this decision will enable us to focus on the future and a return to normal as soon as possible.”

Earlier Friday, President Trump tweeted that Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and MSC Cruises would stop cruises for a month. He called the industry “great and important” and said it would be “kept that way.”

The move comes on the heels of several cruise lines announcing a pause to operations, as the travel industry attempts to address fallout from COVID-19.

“These are unprecedented times, and while no guests or crew have tested positive for COVID-19 on any of our ships, we must take a leadership position as a global citizen and ensure that we are doing everything we can to help stabilize the situation,” Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line, said on the line’s blog. “We know this decision will be disappointing and also inconvenience guests currently in transit, and for that we sincerely apologize. All of us at Holland America Line are fully committed to supporting all our guests through this change.

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Viking, Disney and Princess, which is part of Carnival Corp. earlier announced suspensions.

“The situation has now become such that operating as a travel company involves significant risks of quarantines or medical detentions,” Viking chairman Torstein Hagen said in a letter sent to guests. Viking, operator of six ocean ships and more than 70 river ships, is not a member of CLIA, which represents more than 50 cruise companies worldwide, including regional lines in Europe and Australia.

Princess, the world’s third-largest cruise line, has suffered the industry’s two highest-profile incidents linked to COVID-19. In February, passengers aboard Diamond Princess were quarantined off Yokohama, Japan, for more than two weeks. Seven Diamond Princess passengers have died of coronavirus.

Then, while returning from a Hawaii cruise, just before arriving in San Francisco, passengers aboard the Grand Princess were found to have COVID-19. All Grand Princess passengers are in quarantine at various land facilities around the country.

On Thursday, Disney Cruise Line and small-ship operator Windstar Cruises announced they would suspend operations temporarily.

The Alaska cruise season for larger vessels could be in jeopardy because of Canada’s announcement of the closure of ports to vessels larger than 500 passengers.

Royal Caribbean said in a statement that passengers would receive refunds or 125% future cruise credit that could be used through Dec. 31.

Norwegian said it would give full refunds to those who no longer want to sail within 90 days. But the company said in a statement on its website that customers should not contact them until after March 23.

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Carnival Cruise Lines recently made the Southland the home port for its first new cruise ship here in two decades. The Carnival Panorama sails each Saturday from Long Beach to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Mazatlán and Cabo San Lucas.

The cruise industry pumps $53 billion into the U.S. economy, the cruise association said.


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