• Princess Cruises extended its suspension of operations with a resumption of passenger cruises set for Dec. 16
  • The company's cruises were originally scheduled to resume Sept. 30 before the recent rise in COVID-19 cases
  • Australia is the lone exception with five ships setting sail beginning Nov. 1
  • Princess Cruises announces refund policies for affected passengers

Princess Cruises, one of the first cruise lines to suspend operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, announced its plans Wednesday to resume passenger operations in the U.S. and the rest of the world Dec. 16.

Affected by the extended cancellation of operations are all sailings in Antarctica, Asia, the California Coast, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Japan, Mexico, the Panama Canal, South America, the South Pacific and Tahiti.

Acknowledging the dangers presented by the current resurgence of COVID-19 cases in a number of countries, Princess Cruises canceled nearly all of its cruises through Dec. 15.

The lone exception is Australia, where five of its ships will resume passenger voyages Nov. 1. All sailings to and from Australia on the Majestic Princess, Regal Princess, Sapphire Princess, Sea Princess and Sun Princess are canceled through Oct. 31.

Negin Kamali, spokesperson for Princess Cruises, said more than 100 additional cruises were canceled due to the decision to extend the pause in operations. In June, Princess Cruises announced the cancellation of all global cruises until mid-September to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 among its guests and crews.

The new order extending the suspension of passenger operations until Dec. 15 also places it well clear of the "no-sail order" imposed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC order is set to expire Sept. 30.

“We share in our guests’ disappointment in cancelling these cruises,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “We look forward to the days when we can return to travel and the happiness it brings to all who cruise.”

The company also announced refunds for travelers who paid in full or in part for their voyages. Travelers who paid in full will receive a refundable future cruise credit equal to the fare paid. They also will receive a non-refundable bonus future cruise credit equal to 25% of the original fare.

Passengers who made partial payments will receive a refundable future cruise credit for money deposited. They also will get a non-refundable matching future cruise credit to be used on any sailing until May 1, 2022.

Passengers from the Diamond Princess were taken by stations and airports to begin the journeys home
Passengers from the Diamond Princess were taken by stations and airports to begin the journeys home AFP / Kazuhiro NOGI

Princess Cruises gained considerable notoriety early on in the global COVID-19 pandemic because of widespread cases on three of its cruise liners. One of the cruise ships, the Diamond Princess, had 712 cases and 11 deaths in February as it was quarantined in Yokohama, Japan.

Another ship, the Grand Princess, docked in San Francisco in March with 11 passengers and 10 crew members exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. A passenger who disembarked the ship in California later died from the disease. The Ruby Princess in Australia reported 852 confirmed cases and 21 deaths by April.