Viking, Princess cruise lines suspend trips amid coronavirus outbreak

Viking, Princess cruise lines suspend trips amid coronavirus outbreak

Viking and Princess cruise lines on Thursday announced they are suspending trips amid concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. 

The cancellations come amid a litany of travel restrictions and quarantines due to the global spread of the virus, which has infected over 127,000 people worldwide and killed 4,718. Several passengers on two of Princess Cruises's ships, Diamond Princess and Grand Princess, have also been quarantined abroad and in the U.S. after the ships were struck with outbreaks of their own. 

Torstein Hagen, the chairman of Viking Cruises, wrote in a letter to passengers Wednesday that it was making the “difficult decision to temporarily suspend operations” for river and ocean cruises beginning Thursday and extending through April 30. 

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"I am writing today because the situation has now become such that operating as a travel company involves significant risks of quarantines or medical detentions, which could diminish the travel experiences for which our guests have been planning," wrote Hagen, who oversees one of the world’s largest cruise lines.

"As a private company with strong finances, we do not have to worry about quarterly profit expectations — and that flexibility allows us the ability to do what is best for our guests and our employees, as we have always done," he added.

Princess Cruises followed suit on Thursday, announcing that it was suspending trips between March 12 and May 10.

“We have given every ounce of our effort to doing what’s right and what’s needed since this all began,” said Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz. “In the interest of doing what’s right and upholding our core values, I regretfully am announcing a 60-day pause of our Princess global ship operations.” 

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The moves come as cruise liners have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus. Nearly 700 people were infected with the virus after being quarantined on board the Diamond Princess and at least 21 people tested positive after sailing on Grand Princess.

A handful of other ships have also been turned away from ports out of fears that passengers could spread the illness.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report MORE Thursday announced travel restrictions for the next 30 days from Europe, excluding Great Britain, though the policy does not apply to U.S. citizens and their immediate family members.