If you are among the horrified would-be passengers watching cruise ships become floating microcosms for flimsy coronavirus containment efforts, have we got an offer for you! “You couldn’t pay me enough to take a cruise right now,” you say?
Just wait! How about $100? Yes, that’s right, $100—not cash, but a voucher for you to spend however you like during a three-day cruise aboard a Princess ship? Yes, Princess Cruises, the company recently made famous by not one but two quarantined ships with coronavirus-infected passengers and crew, is offering cruisers booked to depart between March 6 and May 31 vouchers of $100 to $200 (depending on their length of, um, anticipated stay) in onboard credit if they don’t cancel.
This comes as a temporary update to Princess’s cancellation policy, which generally charges would-be passengers cancellation fees for anywhere from 50%-100% of a cruise’s fare, depending on how far in advance they cancel. Now, they are offering those fees in “future cruise credit.” So instead of charging, say, 50% of a four-day cruise’s price-tag to cancel it a month in advance, Princess will refund 50% of the cruise fare and award the other half in a credit to spend on a future cruise. For example, a person who cancelled a $1,000 cruise pre-coronavirus would have forfeited $500. Now, they’ll receive that $500 in credit for another Princess cruise, should they ever want to step aboard.
Princess and other cruise lines will need all the help they can get, especially after Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and a leading expert on the subject, told NBC viewers on Sunday, “Above all, don’t get on a cruise ship.”
Investors are taking similar advice, and cruise stocks have plunged accordingly. Carnival Cruise Line, the parent company of Princess Cruises, has lost nearly 40% of its market value since early February.