Swine flu: Carnival cancels cruises

Swine flu: Carnival cancels cruises

Carnival Cruise Lines has cancelled four and five-day cruises from New Orleans and Galveston to Mexico next week as cases of swine flu continue to spread.

The mini-cruises have been replaced with two seven-night voyages. The New Orleans cruises will call at Key West, Freeport and Nassau; the Galveston departures will visit Montego Bay and Grand Cayman.

Carnival said there was no "viable four-day itinerary options available given the current situation in Mexico".

On Tuesday, the UK Foreign Office and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised against all non-essential travel to Mexico because of swine flu.

Yesterday the World Health Organization raised its pandemic alert for swine flu to level five, the second-highest, predicting a global outbreak is imminent, after more cases were reported around the world.

Passengers booked on Carnival's four-day cruises will receive a full refund and $50 per person onboard credit if they rebook a Carnival cruise before December 31 2010.

Passengers on the five-day cruises can switch to the seven-day sailing for the same price. Carnival will rearrange flights booked through their office; passengers who made their own air arrangements can claim up to $150 per person to cover airline fees. Carnival will give a full refund to anyone who doesn't want to take the seven-night option.

Carnival has rearranged cruise schedules until May 4 and said it is evaluating the situation for sailings departing after that date.

Several other cruiselines have cancelled Mexican port calls. Royal Caribbean International has replaced Mexican Riviera cruises from Los Angeles on Mariner of the Seas with a new itinerary, in place until mid-June, that visits San Francisco, Victoria and Seattle.

The cruiseline has replaced most of its other Mexico port calls with extra time in a previous port and an additional day at sea, but a couple of itineraries are featuring an alternative port of call.

Royal Caribbean said authorities have not raised specific concerns regarding Mexico's ports, but added: "We want to err on the side of caution."

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