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US Coast Guard Tells Cruise Ships With COVID-19 Cases to Remain at Sea



The United States Coast Guard has announced all cruise ships will be forced to stay at sea indefinitely and treat any sick passengers and crew onboard during the coronavirus outbreak.

According to The Associated Press, the new regulations were issued Sunday for ships in U.S. waters carrying more than 50 people and require vessels to provide daily updates on coronavirus caseloads or face civil penalties or criminal prosecution.

[Read More: Cruise News]

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The Coast Guard also said foreign-flagged ships should evacuate the very sick to those countries instead of the U.S. If the agency does deem a transfer necessary, the cruise line would be responsible for arranging on-shore transportation and hospital beds.

“This is necessary as shore-side medical facilities may reach full capacity and lose the ability to accept and effectively treat additional critically-ill patients,” the Coast Guard said in a statement. “A potential evacuee has better access to comfortable surroundings and the medical staff onboard the foreign passenger vessel where care is already being provided.”

While most ships waiting in port or at sea only have crew members on board, officials from Carnival Cruise Line revealed there are more than 6,000 passengers sailing toward Florida, Italy and England.

U.S. President Donald Trump also recently stepped in to offer assistance to Carnival’s Holland America cruise vessels, the Zaandam and Rotterdam, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases grow and the ships have been turned away.

“They’re dying on the ship,” President Trump told the media about the situation. “I’m going to do what’s right. Not only for us, but for humanity.”

Over the last week, several top companies in the cruise industry have extended the suspension of all voyages due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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Viking Extends Suspension of Cruising Through August 31



Viking has further suspended operations through Aug. 31, 2020. The company initially announced it would stop cruising on March 11.

“We were the first cruise line to announce a temporary suspension of operations. We have continued to evaluate the situation, responding accordingly,” Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen wrote in a May 28 post on the company website. “While restrictions related to COVID-19 are beginning to ease in some countries, travel remains complicated. Therefore, we have made the decision to extend our temporary suspension of operations through Aug. 31, 2020.”

The company is offering 125 percent credit to passengers booked on canceled voyages. “It is fully transferable, allowing you to gift it to someone with whom you would like to share the joys of travel. It can be applied within the next 24 months to any river, ocean or expedition cruise,” Hagen wrote. “If you are unable to use your voucher by the expiration date, simply return your expired voucher to Viking, and we will send you a refund equal to the original amount paid to Viking.”

For more details on credits and refunds, click here.

Hagen said the company is developing new safety protocols and taking care of its crew members.

“We have always had the highest standards for health and cleanliness—and are now developing additional protocols to make traveling with Viking even safer. We will be sharing more information about this very soon,” he wrote. “Also, during this time of non-operation, we are further training our crew and preparing our fleet to welcome you onboard again. Since our first announcement, many of you have expressed concern for our crew, and I want to reassure you that we are continuing to take good care of them.”

Hagen said he is seeing signs of hope in Europe. “I am delighted to note that in the past couple of weeks, hope has emerged here in Europe. In Switzerland, restaurants and shops opened two weeks ago, and I must admit it was a great treat to go to my favorite Italian restaurant the other day. Last week, I had my first day in the office – with a mask and proper distancing. It now also looks as though the local borders in Europe are starting to open up.”

Viking plans to launch the ocean ship Viking Venus Early next year and, in 2022, will welcome new expedition vessels, Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris, that will sail the Arctic, Antarctic and North America’s Great Lakes, and a modern river vessel, Viking Mississippi.

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