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.