New York (CNN Business)Princess Cruises will halt global operations of its 18 cruise ships for two months, after two of its ships carried passengers who were diagnosed with the coronavirus.
The move came after another cruise ship operator, Viking, announced it would also suspend all ocean and river cruises until May 1. Viking has 16 ocean-going ships and more than 70 vessels overall.
No part of the travel industry has been hit harder by the coronavirus outbreak than the cruise industry. Demand for cruises has fallen dramatically. Health authorities have urged the elderly not to take cruises, which could expose them to the virus.
Princess Cruises said that it will suspend operations within the next five days. It will, however, continue to sail through the end of its ships’ current itineraries so that passengers’ travel arrangements are not disrupted. Current voyages that are underway and extend beyond March 17 will end at what the company determines to be the most convenient location for guests to disembark.
The Grand Princess cruise ship, which docked this week in Oakland, had 19 passengers and two crew members diagnosed with coronavirus. At least two passengers aboard the the Diamond Princess, which docked in Japan last month, have died from the coronavirus, according to health authorities. More than 700 people who were on board tested positive for the virus.
Shares of Carnival Corp. (, which owns the Princess line, plunged 15% in early trading on the news. Shares were already down 57% so far this year through Wednesday’s close. Its ships are still sailing. )