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March 25 updates: More lines extend suspension, Costa/MSC challenges, Alaska season delay, RMI supports seafarers

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In addition to feature story coverage, here's a quick read of some of today’s other coronavirus-related cruise news and announcements.

Keep checking back. This is being continuously updated.

P&O Cruises Australia extends suspension

P&O Cruises Australia extended its voluntary pause in operations across Australia and New Zealand. It now plans to resume operations on May 15 in Australia — an extra 30 days to what had previously been announced.

This will affect sailings by Pacific Dawn and Pacific Explorer. In New Zealand it will suspend Pacific Aria's voyages until June 30.

The company said it will contact people whose cruises are affected. Those who have paid in full for voyages cancelled during the extended suspensions have two options — a full refund or a 200% future cruise credit. Travel agent commissions are protected for bookings paid in full and for the total amount of future cruise credits.

AQSC and Victory will also return later

American Queen Steamboat Co. is extending its temporarily suspended operations across all boats through May 16. Twenty sailings between April 11 and then are impacted, and customers will get a 125% future cruise credit.

Sister brand Victory Cruise Lines now plans to resume service May 17. Passengers on the four cruises that were to depart between April 24 and then will be contacted and offered a 125% future cruise credit.

Carnival Cruise Line: Stay tuned

Carnival Cruise Line acknowledged other lines are extending suspensions and said it expects to share a decision by Friday. 

Dream Cruises drops October-February Australia season

Dream Cruises announced Explorer Dream will not operate a second season Down Under between October and February, as planned.

‘While Explorer Dream will not return to Australia and New Zealand in the immediate future, we will be back,’ Brigita Devries, VP sales and marketing Australia and New Zealand, said.

‘We are deeply saddened by this decision,’ Devries said, ‘however we must take these extraordinary precautionary measures in order to limit the spread of the virus and play our part in recovery. We hope that by acting early, we will minimise the number of passengers affected.'

Those affected by the cancellation will receive a full refund or a future cruise credit towards any voyage until December 31, 2021, with an additional A$250 on-board credit.

Costa Deliziosa takes on provisions

After refueling in Mauritius on Tuesday, Costa Deliziosa docked this morning in La Reunion for a technical call. Five containers, mainly of food, were delivered. Three passengers from the island were allowed to disembark and must self-quarantine although no health problem has been declared on the ship.

There are 2,800 passengers aboard. Costa Deliziosa is supposed to be heading to Italy.

Costa Victoria in Civitavecchia

After a nearly two-month voyage, Costa Victoria has arrived in Italy. All of the approximately 700 passengers have been confined to their cabins since an Argentine woman tested positive for corinavirus in Crete and disembarked in Greece. The ship was to end its cruise in Venice on March 28.

Civitavecchia's mayor is calling for the port's closure to cruise ships.

Costa pair heading to Miami

Costa Favolosa and Costa Magica, both in the Caribbean and without passengers, are now underway to PortMiami, with arrival expected Thursday, The Miami Herald reports. 

MSC Splendida in Marseille

MSC Splendida, which docked Tuesday evening in Marseille with 1,700 passengers and no known health problems, has disembarked French residents but there are challenges repatriating the other nationalities given the flight and rail cancellations. 

Seattle warns on Alaska season delay

Though it's no surprise given Canada's earlier decision not to take cruise ships carrying more than 500 people until July, the Port of Seattle has now stated it expects a delay to the start of the 2020 cruise season 'until the resolution of the public health emergency.' Earlier, the port had canceled the season's first two calls in April, both transits.

'The eventual return of our cruise season is something we fully expect as an important contribution to living wage jobs, local small businesses, and our region’s economic recovery,' Port of Seattle Commission President Peter Steinbrueck said. 'We also recognize the critical role Seattle cruise plays in supporting the Alaska economy for over 20 years.'

Each homeport sailing is calculated to create approximately $4m in regional business activity, with a full cruise season generating nearly $900m statewide and supporting 5,500 jobs.

Marshall Islands Registry urges seafarer support

The Republic of the Marshall Islands, one of the world’s largest maritime registries, encouraged countries to recognize and protect seafarers as key transport workers amid restrictions around the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Many countries have imposed travel bans and restrictions on crew changes. The unforeseen consequence is the prevention of the change of ships’ crews, either to join a ship or for crews to be relieved and return home. The RMI Registry has received a number of complaints from operators and individual seafarers stating that the prevention of repatriation is adding to their emotional stress and adversely affecting their well-being.

'On behalf of all seafarers ... the RMI Registry urges governments to recognize the contribution of seafarers towards keeping vital supply chains open, and to devise plans to allow them to board a designated ship and to be repatriated at the end of their contracts.'

To this end, the registry endorsed Circular Letter No. 4224, issued by International Maritime Organization's secretary general, as well as the stance taken by the UK government designating seafarers as key transport workers. 

CMV passengers still booking

Cruise & Maritime Voyages reported bookings are still being made for later in 2020 and 2021, when it is hoped travel restrictions will have lifted.

New flagship Amy Johnson is to sail its maiden voyage in April 2021 and will then position alongside Columbus sailing from London Tilbury. The program, which went on sale Feb. 20, is already some 27% sold. Three Amy Johnson cruises from Tilbury in 2021 are proving to be top sellers and are all well over 50% sold.

'During a very difficult trading period, people are clearly looking forward to the future and planning their 2021 cruising holidays, and at the same time maximising on our "Buy One, Get One Free" deals which extend, subject to availability, until 31st May 2020,'  CMV Sales Director Lisa Jacobs said.

American Cruise Lines' flexible cancellation policy

Following American Cruise Lines' suspension of operations through April, the company rolled out flexible options for passengers and said it will protect travel advisor commissions for bookings impacted by COVID-19.

New and existing bookings on cruises departing through August may be canceled for any reason up to 24 hours before, for a 100% voucher. Passengers on suspended cruises can get a full refund or a 125% future cruise voucher.  Commissions will be paid based on the original sailing date.