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Coronavirus pandemic causes high-end cruises to stop running

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

One Europeans cruise outfit has cancelled all voyages going forward in a bid to stop the virus breaking out between passengers.

Exclusive cruise operator Viking River Cruises has suspended all voyages effective immediately over fears its high-paying passengers may contract coronavirus.

In a statement to all prospective passengers, Viking Cruises said it was temporarily suspending all river and ocean cruises between March 12 and April 30 this year.

Customers who had booked a cruise during this window will receive a voucher valued at 125 per cent of what they paid to re-book a cruise within 24 months.

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If customers are unable to use their voucher in this period, they will be sent an automatic refund equal to the original amount paid.

Viking's Chairman Torstein Hagen said the outbreak has made cruising "complicated".

"I am sure you recognise that COVID-19 has made travel exceedingly complicated," Mr Hagen said.

"An increasing number of ports, including Venice, Monte Carlo and Bergen, have temporarily closed to cruise ships; major attractions such as the Vatican and other museums have been closed; and some countries are imposing restrictions on public gatherings and visitors."

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Mr Hagen said a recent event onboard a Viking voyage led to his decision.

"In recent days we have had an experience where a river cruise guest in Southeast Asia was exposed to COVID-19 while in transit on an international airline," said Mr Hagen.

"While this guest is not exhibiting symptoms, she has been placed in quarantine. Separately, the remaining 28 guests will also be quarantined."

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Viking is the latest in a number of cruise operators fearing the worst from the global outbreak.

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Two days ago Australia's SmartTraveller app warned users against travelling on any cruise while the coronavirus spread.

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Dozens of Australians were famously quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess in Japan for two weeks after several staff members and elderly passengers fell ill with COVID-19.

Another cruise ship was forced to sit offshore the coast of California after a cluster of coronavirus cases broke out onboard. Four Australians were onboard, none of whom contracted the disease.

The situation was so dire the US Coast Guard had to drop in coronavirus testing kits via helicopter, with no officer stepping foot on deck.

Source: 9News

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