Carnival, Viking cruise lines head to dry dock

March 12, 2020, 3:42 PM UTC

Carnival Cruises and Viking Cruises have suspended operations as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic spreads and more governments, including the United States, put travel bans into place.

Carnival is voluntarily stopping all of its Princess cruises for at least two months, while Viking says it hopes to resume operations on May 1. News of the decisions sent the stock of all major cruise companies plummeting in trading Thursday.

“It is our intention to reassure our loyal guests, team members and global stakeholders of our commitment to the health, safety and well-being of all who sail with us, as well as those who do business with us, and the countries and communities we visit around the world,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, in a statement.

“The situation has now become such that operating as a travel company involves significant risks of quarantines or medical detentions, which could diminish the travel experiences for which our guests have been planning,” said Viking chairman Torstein Hagen. “Therefore, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend operations of our river and ocean vessels.”

Other cruise lines have not followed suit, but Norwegian said it is monitoring the rapidly evolving situation.

Carnival shares were down 17% in late morning trading Thursday. Royal Caribbean Cruises was down more than 25%. And Norwegian was down 28%.

Cruise lines have been especially hard hit as coronavirus has spread, frequently being denied permission at ports, leaving passengers stranded at sea—which has only spread the virus. The CDC has a separate line item in its running coronavirus infection count for the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

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