Cruise lines are rerouting ships, skipping Singapore amid fears over the coronavirus outbreak

The cruise liner Westerdam docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Nov 24, 2015 (Photo: MasteroGarfield, wiki commons).

Cruise lines are rerouting their ships and skipping ports in Asia, while some are canceling their sailings from Singapore amid fears over the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

It came after the cruise liner Westerdam – operated by Holland America Line – was rejected entry by five ports, including Taiwan, Japan, Philippines, Guam, and Thailand over fears it could be carrying someone infected with the coronavirus. The ship departed from Hong Kong on 1 February with 2,257 passengers and crew on board.

Celebrity Cruises will reposition the Celebrity Millenium cruise ship to the United States in three months earlier than scheduled, The Strait Times reported on 13 February.

“Up until today, we had not intended to cancel the remaining season in Asia. However, due to continuous and unpredictable changes in travel restrictions and port closures, we feel this is the best decision for the health and safety of all,” a spokesperson from Celebrity Cruise said.

Celebrity Cruises also revised its Celebrity Constellation voyages on 2 March and 17 March sailings which were scheduled to disembark and embark in Singapore but now replaced in Dubai.

According to Royal Carribean, two sailings on Quantum of the Seas that were scheduled to depart Singapore on 15 February and 24 February have also been canceled due to “current regional travel conditions”.

On the other hand, Norwegian Cruise Line canceled all Asian itineraries for the Norwegian Spirit from 15 April through 7 December amid concerns over the novel coronavirus outbreak in Asia.

“While it is always our intention to maintain original itineraries, at times, unforeseen circumstances require us to make modifications. We appreciate our guests’ patience during this time,” Norwegian said.

Travel Weekly reported that Norwegian Cruise Line has not stated where the ship will be redeployed.

The Spirit’s 24-day cruise from Cape Town, South Africa, to Singapore on 22 March has also been revised to a 27-day sailing which stops in Piraeus, Greece and no longer concludes in Singapore.

The cruise line will provide a 50 per cent refund to the guests who choose to proceed with the modified itinerary, or a full refund if they cancel by today (14 February).

Cunard cruise line also revised both of its Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth itineraries, in which Queen Mary 2 will skip a scheduled stop in Singapore. While Queen Elizabeth will no longer be scheduled in Hong Kong on 31 March or Shanghai on 4 April.

Meanwhile, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) cruise director Annie Chang noted the cruise terminals in Singapore are still open, but arriving ships must comply with the country’s entry requirements, The Straits Times reported.

Looking at the sector’s strong growth and the varied range of cruise brands and markets, Ms Chang believes the country is in a good condition to recover.

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