Aerial view of the Caribbean Sea © iStock
Aerial view of the Caribbean Sea © iStock

For anyone unsure about booking a cruise holiday in the current climate the cruise industry is taking measures to ensure consumers feel as confident as possible.

In a statement, Andy Harmer, Senior VP Membership and Director for the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) UK & Ireland, said:

“The cruise industry is one of the most well-equipped and experienced in providing for the care and safety of guests and crew, which is our number one priority at all times.

“CLIA cruise line members are required to put in place very strict protocols in the interest of the health and safety of their travellers and crew. Prior to boarding, CLIA cruise lines must take precautions to conduct screenings of passengers and crew for illness.

“In response to COVID-19, CLIA cruise lines agreed to adopt a first set of pre-screening protocols beginning on January 31, which required the denial of boarding to any persons who had travelled in or through mainland China within the 14 days prior to embarkation. These protocolshave been enhanced as the situation has evolved, and CLIA members have agreed to adopt more stringent measures, including denial of boarding to all persons who have travelled from, visited or transited via airports in affected areas.  Today, that includes Iran, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Macau, and any municipality in Italy subject to lockdown (quarantine) measures by the Italian Government, as designated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, within 14 days prior to embarkation. No known tourism sector has such stringent travel restrictions, let alone ones that are self-imposed.

“Furthermore, every CLIA ocean-going member ship is required to be fitted with medical facilities that meet or exceed the robust elements of the American College of Emergency Physicians’ ‘Health Care Guidelines for Cruise Ships,’ and medical professionals must be available around the clock, 24/7.

“The cruise industry has extensive experience providing for the health and safety of passengers and crew. CLIA cruise lines, unlike other modes of transportation, are uniquely equipped onboard to manage and respond in times of medical need, and all CLIA cruise line member ships are required to have well-equipped medical facilities with professionally trained doctors and nurses. Ships have the capability, unlike any other form of transportation, for on-site crew members to immediately initiate sanitising and disinfectant procedures in defined areas.

“Our members work around the clock, at all times of the year, to help ensure the safety and comfort of passengers and crew, and also communicate and provide information as recommended about prevailing health guidance. When travelling, the best practice to protect yourself from any illness is to listen to expert advice, which is that frequent handwashing and avoiding close contact with people who show signs of illness are the most effective deterrents to virus and influenza. “

Princess Cruises temporarily revises cancellation policy

Meanwhile Princess Cruises has temporarily changed its cancellation policy for cruises and cruise tours departing up to May 31, 2020. The line is implementing a revised policy to assist guests making decisions regarding their cruise holidays during the evolving worldwide COVID-19 situation.

The details vary by departure date:

* April 3 or earlier: Cancel up to 72hrs before sailing to receive a Future Cruise Credit (FCC) for 100% of cancellation fees

* April 4 – May 31: Cancel by March 31, 2020 and receive receive a FCC for 100% of cancellation fees

* Meanwhile, for cruises from June 1 – June 30, the final final payment moves to 60 days prior to sailing from 90 days

Guests that choose to keep their booking for departures between March 9 and May 31 will receive the following complimentary onboard spending money:

  • $100 per cabin for 3-day and 4-day cruises
  • $150 per cabin for 5-day cruises
  • $200 per cabin for 6-day and longer cruises

Full details can be found at
https://www.princess.com/news/notices_and_advisories/notices/temporary-cancellation-policy.html

Royal Caribbean Group introduces Cruise With Confidence

The Royal Caribbean Group has also adopted a “Cruise With Confidence” policy, allowing guests booked on Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea to cancel up to 48 hours before a sailing. Guests will receive a full credit for their fare, usable on any future sailing of the guest’s choice in 2020 or 2021. The policy applies to both new and existing cruise bookings.

“Our previous policy set earlier deadlines for guests to cancel their cruises, and that added unnecessary stress,” said Richard Fain, the company’s chairman and CEO. “Trying to guess a month or more in advance where areas of concern about coronavirus might be is challenging for medical experts, much less a family preparing for vacation.

“When circumstances are as fast-changing as they have been recently, it’s good to know you have the option to take a rain check,” Fain said. “We think putting more control in our guests’ hands helps them make informed decisions about whether to keep their existing vacation plans or trade out for a more convenient time or itinerary.”

In addition to easing concerns for booked guests, Fain said the policy would also give consumers more confidence in making new bookings, knowing that they could later adjust their plans without penalty.

The policy applies to all cruises with a sailing date on or before 31 July, 2020, and will be offered by the company’s global brands: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea.

Oceania Cruises Unveils New Traveller’s Assurance Programme

Oceania Cruises has announced a new Traveller’s Assurance booking policy effective immediately for all existing and new bookings made by April 30, 2020 for any voyages departing between March 10, 2020 to September 30, 2020.

Guests may cancel up to 48 hours prior to departure and will receive a Future Cruise Credit equal to 100% of the cruise fare paid.

Norwegian Cruise Line introduces Peace of Mind policy

Norwegian Cruise Line is encouraging travellers to plan their next cruise holiday with its new Peace of Mind policy, offering guests who book voyages through to 30 September 2020 the opportunity to cancel up to 48 hours prior to the sail date and receive a 100% future cruise credit based on amount paid towards the booking for use on any sailings through to 31 December 2022.

This new offer applies to all new guests as well as those already booked on voyages beginning 10 March 2020.

P&O Cruises and Cunard update Coronavirus Reassurance Cancellation and Transfer Policy

P&O Cruises and Cunard have implemented a new interim policy for all guests with bookings departing prior to 31 August 31 2020. 

·        All guests with existing and new bookings on holidays departing before 31 August, 2020 may now cancel up to 48 hours prior to departure
·        Cancelled bookings will receive a Future Cruise Credit equivalent to the cancellation fees and refunds will be given on any remaining monies paid
·        The Future Cruise Credit may be redeemed against any sailing until end of March 2022 (bookings to be made before December 31, 2021)
·        The Future Cruise Credit is non-refundable, but may be used on multiple sailings

Guests travelling with P&O Cruises and Cunard before the end of August 2020

Guests travelling before August this year will have additional money to spend on board applied to their booking (bookings made prior to March 11, 2020). The amount of credit is shown below, applicable per cabin**:

P&O Cruises

Cruise duration(nights) OBC
1-3
£100
4-7
£200
8-14
£400
15+
£600

                       
Cunard 

Cruise duration (nights) OBC
1-3
$150
4-7
$300
8-14
$600
15+
$900

                       
Additional amendments include: 

Guests who cancelled bookings between February 1, 2020 and March 11, 2020 for sailings before the end of August 2020, but who did not opt to convert their cancellation charge into a Future Cruise Credit, will have this automatically credited to their account for use on a future holiday.

Guests travelling after August 2020* are able to transfer free of charge to any alternative cruise date, prior to paying the balance of their holiday.

The Future Cruise Credit given to P&O Cruises guests following Arcadia’s itinerary changes will now be extended until the end of December 2021.

*fare type conditions apply

** exceptions include the following cruises:

Q009N
Q010N
Q011N
Q012N
Q013B
Q015N
Q015C
Q016N