In the wake of the World Health Organization's most unusual advisory against
travel to Hong Kong, Princess, Crystal and Holland America, all of which
have ships slated for calls there this month, are revising itineraries. The
last minute changes vary; here's a summary:
must cancel by April 12.
Crystal's Marine Operations Department is rerouting Harmony, which had
scheduled two different turn-around calls at Hong Kong this month, to Japan.
At this point -- schedules, according to a spokeswoman, are not yet
finalized -- but it looks certain that the ship will replace the Hong Kong
turn-arounds with Yokohama, the port of Tokyo. For passengers already
sailing on Harmony's first Hong Kong itinerary, the cruise line is,
additionally, offering a $250 per person future cruise credit, assisting
with rescheduling of new flights home from Tokyo, and providing free email
once itinerary and flight changes are finalized. Folks on Crystal Harmony's
next sailing, departing April 15 and also originally slated for a
Beijing-Hong Kong run, will be given a $500 per person future cruise credit
-- or they can opt to cancel, using Crystal's rollover option. However, they
must cancel by April 12.
Princess Cruises' Regal Princess, currently sailing an 18-day
Sydney-to-Bangkok itinerary, did bypass Singapore's scheduled call on
Thursday. Otherwise, there are no changes and the ship will arrive in
Bangkok on schedule Probably the biggest headache -- and this applies as
well to Regal's next sailing, a 30-day Asia-India-Mediterranean cruise
departing from Bangkok on April 8 -- is that Princess is rerouting all
passengers (debarking and embarking) who've purchased its air package, so
they do not connect through Hong Kong. The cruise line's asking independent
travelers to make the same change in order to avoid Hong Kong. Anyone who
does fly via Hong Kong will not be allowed to board the ship in Bangkok.
Instead, Princess will require those folks to wait out a ten-day stint -- to
make sure they don't have any symptoms. A spokeswoman at Princess says that
the cruise line will provide an airport transfer, hotel, meals and,
ultimately, a connection to the next possible port (once the waiting period
Holland America's Prinsendam with two Far East sailings this month (April
11 and 25) will now roundtrip from Osaka. The itinerary for the April 11
trip will visit Nagasaki, Japan; Naha, Okinawa; Pusan, South Korea;
Vladivostok, Russia; and Niigata, Japan. The follow-up sailing, a
repositioning cruise to San Francisco, will overnight in Osaka and then call at Pusan, South Korea; Vladivostok and Petropavlosk, Russia; and Dutch Harbor, Kodiak, Sitka, and Ketchikan, Alaska. There was no word from the folks at Holland America about assistance to passengers with flight arrangements.
The bottom line, in all cases, is that the cruise lines involved are
scrambling to handle itinerary changes as a result of the uncertainty of
SARS at this point. The situation, says Princess' Julie Benson, "is changing hour by hour. We'll continue to keep on top of the situation."