Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Coronavirus: Cunard ends its three world cruises

Queen Mary 2 Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The Queen Mary 2, which can carry up to 2,691 passengers, is making its way back to Southampton from Australia

Cunard has ended its three international voyages in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Passengers from its three ships are being flown home and two of the ships will sail back to Southampton.

Queen Mary 2 is returning from Australia almost empty. Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth have also ended cruises.

Other lines which use Southampton - Princess Cruises, Saga and Fred Olsen - have already cancelled voyages.

The Southampton-based cruise line, which is part of the Carnival group, said the decision had been taken "in light of the Covid-19 situation and the increasing restrictions imposed on global travel".

In a statement on its website, the firm said: "We sincerely apologise for these changes at such short notice and thank guests for their understanding during this unprecedented situation."

Queen Mary 2 will return with only passengers who are unable to fly due to medical conditions.

Queen Victoria is sailing back from Florida while Queen Elizabeth is not expected back in Southampton in the near future.

Both Cunard and P&O Cruises said new cruises have been suspended until April 11, 2020.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: "Having reviewed all of our ship operations and industry recommendations, we will bring our ships back to Southampton."

Both cruise firms said passengers affected were being contacted regarding their voyage and their options.

On Thursday the government advised against cruise ship travel for people aged over 70, and those with pre-existing health conditions.

Brittany Ferries has also cancelled a number of its services in response to the pandemic.

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