Cruise operators MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises said on Thursday that they had cancelled departures from Chinese ports because of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

MSC cancelled three scheduled cruises on its Splendida ship which has a capacity of 6,880 people and was due to sail on February 1, 5 and 9 for Japan.

The ship is now to depart again only on February 14, when it will leave from Singapore, instead of Shanghai, for the Middle East and Europe, MSC said.

MSC said in a statement that no case of infection among passengers or crew had been reported on any of its Asian winter cruises.

"The decision to reposition the ship from Shanghai to Singapore has been taken in the best interests of the safety and wellbeing for our passengers and crew, as was the decision to cancel our next three scheduled sailings from China," Gianni Onorato, the CEO of Swiss-based MSC Cruises, said in the statement.

Grounded for two weeks
Grounded for two weeks ANP / Koen van Weel

Costa, meanwhile suspended nine trips from China that had been scheduled between now and February 4, saying the measure was "temporary".

Costa runs a cruise ship on which more than 6,000 tourists were under lockdown at an Italian port on Thursday after two Chinese passengers were isolated over fears they could be carrying the coronavirus.

Another cruise company, Royal Caribbean, said Thursday it was suspending three sailings through to February 8 on its ship Spectrum of the Seas.

The company said it was denying boarding across its fleet to anyone who had travelled through Hubei Province in China, the epicentre of a contagion that has caused mounting global fear.

Guests who had transited through mainland China in the past 14 days would be screened before being allowed on board, Royal Caribbean said.

Carnival Cruises, based in Florida, had already suspended nine scheduled cruises between January 25 and February 4.