(4:27 p.m. EDT) -- Editor's Note: As of April 9, all cruise ships over 250 passengers and crew that operate in U.S. waters have been put under a no-sail order by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The order will remain in place until COVID-19 is no longer a public health emergency, and supersedes individual cruise line dates for a return to service. For more information, visit our news story.
Princess Cruises is suspending fleet operations in response to the global coronavirus pandemic, affecting all sailings between March 12 and June 30. In Australia, the suspension will last at least until the government's ban on all cruising is lifted on June 15.
The line is also modifying its Alaska cruise season, including canceling all Princess Alaska Gulf cruise voyages (the one-way cruises that sail between Whittier and Vancouver, and vice versa) and all cruise/tour programs. The five wilderness lodges, trains and buses operated by Princess in Alaska will not open this summer.
The line will only operate round-trip sailings from Seattle to Alaska on Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess.
"This global outbreak continues to challenge our world in unimaginable ways," said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. "We recognize how disappointing this is to our long-term business partners and thousands of employees, many of whom have been with us in Alaska for decades. We hope everyone impacted by these cancellations -- especially our guests, travel advisor partners, teammates, and the communities we visit -- understand our decision to do our part to protect the safety, health and well-being of our guests and team. We look forward to the brighter days and smooth seas ahead for all of us.”
Each ship will have a unique return to service date, based on the previously published cruise itineraries, with some modifications, departing after July 1. Details about the canceled voyages can be found at www.princess.com/plan/impacted-and-cancelled-cruises.
Princess is offering passengers full refunds or the opportunity to transfer 100 percent of the fares paid to future cruises. As an extra incentive for guests to accept a future cruise credit, Princess will add an additional 25 percent Future Cruise Credit benefit, which can be applied to the cruise fare. Guests must use their credits on a cruise that sails on or before May 1, 2022. No action is required for guests to receive this offer and they will be notified by email once the credits have been issued.
Alternatively, guests can receive a full refund for all monies paid in full on their booking through the online form found here -- https://princess.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bKHMO3kF1HsNhVX. Requests must be received by May 31, 2020, or they will receive the Future Cruise Credit option.
Guests who have not yet paid in full will receive a refund of all monies paid.
recommends that passengers contact their travel agents or the cruise line directly. Because wait times on the phone are expected to be long, passengers booked on sailings set to depart after mid-April might want to wait a week or two to call.
To find out how cruise lines are handling cancellations, read Cruise Critic's article on flexible policies.