Japan cruise operator files for bankruptcy as coronavirus hits demand

Japan cruise operator files for bankruptcy as coronavirus hits demand

TOKYO, March 2 (Reuters) – A Japanese cruise operator filed for bankruptcy on Monday after its restaurant ship Luminous Kobe 2, which offered buffets and night views of the western port city of Kobe, was hit by cancellations amid concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.

Luminous Cruise said it had already been struggling with rising fuel costs and setbacks from recent typhoons before the coronavirus outbreak on the Diamond Princess, an unrelated cruise ship now docked at Yokohama.

“Since February 1, we have had many cancellations which appear connected to the coronavirus. Continuing would have resulted in large losses for our creditors,” it said on its website, announcing its bankruptcy filing and cruise suspension.

Luminous Cruise’s bankruptcy is among the first stemming from the outbreak, with economists warning of more to come as tourist numbers drop. A hotel in Aichi recently filed for bankruptcy after cancellations by Chinese tourists, Tokyo Shoko Research said last week.

Japan has more than 940 virus cases, including 705 from the Diamond Princess liner, owned by Carnival Corp , according to the public broadcaster NHK.

The outbreak, especially the large cluster of infections linked to the Diamond Princess, has taken a toll on the $46 billion global ocean cruise industry, which is dominated by Carnival Corp, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. (Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

Sherry Ellis