April 13, 2003
In an abrupt move, Crystal Cruises, whose Harmony is sailing Asian
itineraries this month and which just last week re-jiggered itineraries to
avoid regions considered hotspots for Severe Acute Respiratory Disease, has
now canceled the rest of its April sailings. Those now canceled include the
April 15 voyage from Tianjin (the port for Beijing), China to Yokohama,
Japan; the April 24 trip from Beijing to Yokohama and the May 9 Transpacific
crossing from Yokohama to Vancouver.
The company, in a statement, says that “As result of the high rate of
cancellations resulting from the fear of SARS in China, we are canceling
these voyages. We understand some guests were very much looking forward to
their Orient vacation with Crystal Cruises. However, the resulting cruise
experience would not provide the kind of Crystal vacation our guests would
expect.” It attributes a strong wave of passenger cancellations, in light of
new U.S. health warnings about travel in Asia, particularly in China.
Crystal's statement maintains that no passengers have been afflicted with
SARS. Crystal Harmony will return to Los Angeles -- though the company
offered no information about whether the ship was returning to Los Angeles
without passengers. It did say, cryptically, that "Crystal Harmony will be
repositioned to Los Angeles for a new series of shorter cruises with very
aggressive pricing. As of this writing, itineraries were being finalized."
Sources tell us that those sailings will include two Los Angeles roundtrips:
a 9-day Mexican Riviera (with stops in Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta,
Mazatlan and San Diego) departing May 1st and a week-long Mexican Riviera
(Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan) departing May 10. On May 17,
Crystal Harmony will head north on a 6-day L.A. to Vancouver run.