Far East cruising and the Coronovirus – update

Update to blog 28/1/20

Latest update from UK foreign office advising against all but essential travel to China – Hong Kong and Macau are excluded from this advice.
If you have a China cruise booked this means that you should be able to claim on insurance if you have to cancel.
It’s possible though that Cruise Lines will re-route their itineraries so keep in touch will your cruise agent/TA.



China has issued new travel guidelines to halt the spread of the Coronovirus as the situation worsens. Some Cruise operators, including Royal Caribbean, MSC, Costa Cruises and Genting have cancelled a total of 12 cruises scheduled to embark from China in the next week (see below for specifics). Those passengers will be offered full refunds or the option to transfer their booking because these cruises have been cancelled by their operators.

Happier times in China

If you are booked on a cruise in the area our advice is to wait for your cruise company to contact you – at present Foreign Office advice for U.K. cruisers is only to avoid the Wuhan area itself (not difficult as it is hundreds of miles from the nearest coast!) so if you were to cancel the cruise yourself you would not be covered by your insurance. As part of their response to the outbreak the Chinese Government have instructed local travel agencies to cancel all group tours outside the country for now which will mean large scale cancellations on sailings elsewhere in the world, so this may mean that cruise operators will have availability to offer alternative cruises – it is a rapidly evolving situation.

MSC are one of the operators cancelling cruises

In reality though the problem is not just in China – the virus has already spread and with cases reported from Canada to Australia and France it may be that the decision is taken that a strict screening and hygiene regime on cruise in the area is the way forward rather than wholesale cancellations – for example RCI will not allow people who live in Hubei Province, or have visited Hubei in the last fortnight, to board its ships. For cruises already in the region, travel ashore in Chinese ports is restricted and even Hong Kong has declared a virus emergency, with both Disneyland and the Ocean Park theme park closed today.

lunar New Year celebrations are muted this year.

It is certainly a worrying and difficult time for those booked on cruises in the Far East, the cruise companies will be working on it so our advice is;

  1. Wherever you are cruising pay strict attention to hygiene with regular hand washing and minimal hand contact with others.
  2. Stay in touch with your cruise company & / or travel agent
  3. Check your contact details are correct on your Cruise Personliser.
  4. Check that you have granted permissions for email correspondence from the cruise line ( if you’ve ticked ‘no’ to phone or email, they will have to write to you.)
  5. Follow current Government Advice on travel to China – for U.K. residents this is the Foreign Office advice for China on the U.K. Gov website. https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china

Waiting patiently is always the hardest thing to do but this is a rapidly evolving situation and no cruise company is going to be able to give information about cruises in March at the moment. I am sure they will be monitoring the situation closely and looking for alternatives they Will not discuss those until decisions are made, please don’t make the situation worse by yelling at call centre staff!!

Waiting is always the hardest thing to do!

CANCELLATIONS (as we understand them at present.)

Royal Caribbean
Spectrum of the Seas
27th January from Shanghai to Okinawa, Japan is sailing but passengers may cancel or reschedule.
28th January from Shanghai is cancelled
27th and 31st January cancelled
25th and 30th January and 2nd February
25th and 31st January cancelled
26th January and 2nd February cancelled
Costa say guests are eligible for a full refund or rebook an alternative before the end of 2020 with a $50 onboard credit.
World Dream has cancelled a turnaround call in Guangzhou but will continue to operate from Hong Kong

If you have confirmed information about other cancellations please add it below…

Published by Cathy Rogers

Organised, bossy, untidy, inquisitive Gemini - lover of cruising and all things cruise. Author of 'The Confident portExplorer' and 'The Cruise Planner' sharing my passion for cruise organisation and onshore adventures.

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