Taxi operators bemoan the unexpected suspension of cruise season

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Viking became the first cruise line to suspend all its calls, both river and ocean, until May 1, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But ships from that line were not scheduled to make any more stops to Antigua before March 31.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has announced that all member ocean cruise lines will not be sailing over the next 30 to 60 days.

Last Friday, local taxi drivers, store owners, and vendors felt the first effects of the worldwide cancellations, when the Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Gem did not arrive here as scheduled.

President of the St John’s Taxi Association Patrick Burnette told OBSERVER media that there is nothing they can do about it but all those associated with cruise tourism will feel the effects financially.

“Given the fact that we work on a six-month period … any cancellation at all is significant … we are now at a loss,” the association head said.

Burnette added that the taxi operators had been adhering to the best hygiene practices as prescribed by the Ministry of Health with the advent of COVID-19.

“Every precaution has been taking place in terms of sanitation. [The drivers] have all being following all the procedures that have been given out … and information has been shared between members in terms of anything [pertaining to] the virus.”

The United States announced that none of its cruise lines would be leaving its coasts for a month. With that, the largest cruise companies – Carnival, Royal Caribbean and MSC have also suspended calls.

Regent Seven Seas, Oceania Cruises, Costa Cruises and the Disney Cruise Line have suspended all new departures through the end of March 2020.

AIDA Cruises, on Saturday, also announced that it would pause cruise operations through the end of March.

Carnival Corporation announced that it’s suspending operations of its Princess Cruises by voluntarily pausing global operations on its 18 cruise ships for two months until May 10.

Other cruise lines, once destined for Antigua, began relaxing their cancellation policies last week.

TUI Cruises, Seaborne and Sea Cloud have announced a “Cruise With Confidence” policy that will allow customers to cancel cruises as late as two days before departure.

Meanwhile, Sea Dream is denying entry to passengers who, within 14 days before embarkation, have had close contact with, or helped care for, anyone suspected or diagnosed with COVID-19, or who is currently subject to health monitoring for possible exposure to the novel coronavirus.

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