Thanks to the coronavirus outbreak, worry-free vacations on a cruise ship far away from land has become a nightmare. Over the past month, at least four cruise ships, all operated by Miami-based Carnival Corporation, have been stranded at sea after passengers aboard were diagnosed with Covid-19, making those boats a moving death trap for those who were healthy.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. In response, Carnival announced on Thursday that it would suspend all of its Princess cruises until May 10, betting that the pandemic will be over in two months.
Shares of Carnival tumbled 20 percent on Thursday morning with the news, erasing previous gains boosted by President Donald Trump’s promise that his administration will help the cruise and airline industries cope with the coronavirus crisis.
Carnival President Jan Swarts said on CNBC Thursday morning that suspending Princess cruises was a necessary move to reassure stakeholders and protect passengers.
The cruise operator was moving in an opposite direction until just a day earlier. Fearing a wave of trip cancellations due to Covid-19 concerns, Carnival announced on Wednesday that it would offer up to $200 credit for passengers who don’t cancel reservations toward various services on the ship, including beverages, excursions and spa services.
The same day, one of the Princess cruises, the Caribbean Princess, which had two crew members who tested positive for Covid-19, was able to dock at Port Everglades in Florida after several days in the water. On Monday, another virus-stricken Princess ship, the Princess Grand, began disembarking at Port Oakland in California.