By Katherine Lawrey 16 MARCH 2020 • 4:30PM
The global cruise industry is taking an unprecedented break from operations as travel restrictions due to coronavirus take hold aroud the world.
The first cruise operator to announce it was suspending its river and ocean cruises for a temporary period was Viking on Wednesday March 11, closely followed by Princess Cruises. Practically all other major cruise lines have made similar announcements in the days since. The unprecedented move to shut down the global cruise industry follows advice from both the UK and US governments that those aged 70 and over, and those with pre-existing health conditions, should avoid cruise holidays for the time being, while coronavirus is such an important health issue.
Such advice is a devastating blow for a cruise industry that attracts all ages, and is a particularly popular holiday choice for mature travellers. However, across the industry, which prides itself on high service levels and optimal customer care, many cruise lines are simply feeling they cannot deliver the experiences they promise to guests at this time, with port closures and travel restrictions growing by the day.
Andy Harmer, UK and Ireland director of Cruise Lines International Association (Clia), said today: “As we face the prospect of new restrictions impacting our daily lives, we are all being tested, and I’m proud that our cruising community has been stepping up to the challenge. I know that everyone is working around the clock to adapt to the new landscape we find ourselves in, and are making every effort to keep customers informed with updated information, even as developments are seeming to occur so rapidly. Our customers should feel assured that our industry remains focused on their safety, health and well-being.”
Here’s a summary of the lines that have suspended all cruises so far and the compensation being offered to guests.
AmaWaterways – planned restart date April 26 (Europe) and March 23 (Mekong)
Start of European river cruise season has been delayed until April 26 and Mekong river cruises suspended until March 23. Guests who were booked on a cruise that are being cancelled have the option of receiving a future cruise credit equal to 115% of the value of all services purchased through AmaWaterways or receiving a full monetary refund. The future cruise credit is applicable on all European or Mekong River cruise sailings any time before December 31, 2022.
APT – planned restart date April 25
The APT Travel Group (ATG) is suspending all international touring and cruising up to and including April 24, 2020. Tours and Cruises after that date will operate as normal except Canada and Alaska cruising due to the Government of Canada deferring the start of the cruise ship season from April 2, 2020 to July 1, 2020. Guests will be offered a future holiday credit equal to 120 per cent of the value of the booking to be valid up until the end of 2021, which will be applicable for multiple bookings.
A-Rosa – planned restart date April 3 (Danube and Rhine), April 15 (Seine and Rhône)
All Danube and Rhine departures have been cancelled until April 3. The cancellation period for all Seine and Rhône river cruises lasts until April 15 owing to a decree from the French Ministry of Solidarity and Health prohibiting cruise ships with more than 100 passengers on board from calling at French ports until then. Customers are being offered free re-booking to a later date in either the 2020 or 2021 season and guests will receive an additional on board credit of 50 Euros per person. They will also receive a special discount of 30 per cent off a future A-ROSA cruise.
Avalon Waterways – planned restart date May 1
Avalon Waterways, along with sister companies Globus and Cosmos, has suspended travel, across all destinations, through to April 30, 2020. Travellers affected by the suspension have the freedom to reschedule their holiday in 2020, 2021 or 2022, to any destination, on any brand, without incurring cancellation fees. Travellers will also be offered a credit of up to £150pp when they reschedule their plans.
Carnival Cruise Line – planned restart date April 10
Carnival is ceasing cruises for ships based in North America from now until April 9. In a statement the line said: “While Carnival has not had a diagnosed case linked to our operation we realise this situation is bigger than the cruise industry and we will continue do our part to support public officials to manage and contain this unprecedented public health challenge.”
Celestyal – planned restart date May 1
The Greek and Med specialist plan to recommence sailings from May 1 with its three-night Iconic Aegean on Celestyal Olympia and May 2 with the seven-night Eclectic Aegean on Celestyal Crystal as scheduled. Affected sailings are seven-night Three Continents departing March 4, 21 and 28; seven-night Eclectic Aegean departing April 4, 11, 18 and 25; and three- and four-night Iconic Aegean departing from March 16 through to April 30. Guests booked on affected cruises will be offered the choice of either a future cruise credit valued at 120 per cent of the original booking value or a refund of the original amount paid. Guests will have until the end of December 2021 to use their Future Cruise Credit against any of Celestyal’s itineraries. If they did not use their credit within the specified period, they will automatically receive a refund equal to the original amount paid to Celestyal.
CroisiEurope – planned restart date April 16
Passengers who are impacted by these changes will receive full credit and be able to apply this credit to a cruise at a future date and, in addition, receive a voucher for £150 per person for a future cruise (booked on individual basis).
Cruise & Maritime Voyages – planned restart date April 24
CMV is suspending worldwide voyages until April 24, after returning all vessels to their disembarkation ports. All affected passengers will be offered a full refund or a future cruise credit of 125% of the value of their cruise. This credit can be used against the best deal of the day including the current 2021 Buy One Get One Free Offers and 2020 late saver deals. Passengers that opt to transfer will also receive a 20% discount against CMV’s Onboard Additions beverage packages, plus a 10% shore excursion discount and a one cabin category upgrade (subject to availability). The future cruise credit can be used to purchase any published cruises featured in CMV’s 2020 and 2021 cruise programs and must be booked by July 31, 2020.
Crystal Cruises – planned restart date April 12 (river) and April 21 (ocean)
Crystal has cancelled river cruises scheduled to depart from March 26 to April 11, along with a Crystal Esprit yacht cruise due to depart on April 10. The line had earlier made the decision to cancel a series of Asia cruises for Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity including a cruise from Mumbai to Rome departing on April 3. Crystal Serenity is due back in service on April 21 and Crystal Symphony on May 8. Affected guests will be offered a full refund or future cruise credit, details of which will be communicated by the line.
Cunard – planned restart date April 11
Cunard is suspending new cruises on its ships until April 11. Both Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will return to Southampton and Queen Elizabeth’s itineraries are under review. Guests are being contacted regarding their voyage and options.
Disney Cruise Line – planned restart date April 1
Disney has suspended all departures between March 14 and 31. The Disney Dream will depart on a three-night cruise from Port Canaveral as scheduled on Friday, March 13, and will return to Port Canaveral on Monday, March 16. The Disney Fantasy and Disney Magic will return to port on Saturday, March 14. The Disney Wonder, which is currently in the midst of a westbound Panama Canal cruise, will continue on its scheduled itinerary, with guests disembarking in San Diego on Friday, March 20. Disney Cruise Line will offer guests affected by this decision a future cruise credit or a full refund.
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines – planned restart date May 23
Fred has paused its ocean cruise operations until May 23. The line says its priority now is to get all existing guests and crew home as safely and comfortably as possible. Any subsequent itineraries will not go ahead once the current cruises have come to an end. For the time being river ship Brabant is not affected by the pause in operations and the season will commence as planned on April 6.
Holland America Line – planned restart date April 15
Holland America Line will dock its 14 ships, operating across seven continents, for 30 days. Cruises departing on Oosterdam, Nieuw Amsterdam and Koningsdam departing this weekend will not go ahead and voyages on other ships will end as follows: Eurodam in San Diego on March 18; Veendam and Zuiderdam in Fort Lauderdale on March 18; Maasdam in Hilo, Hawaii on April 3 (a change to planned disembarkation of San Diego); Zaandam on March 21 in San Antonio, Chile; Volendam on March 22 in Fort Lauderdale; Amsterdam on March 24 in Freemantle, Australia (a change to planned disembarkation in Fort Lauderdale); and Rotterdam on March 27 in Fort Lauderdale. Ships not currently in service due to previous cancellations are Nieuw Statendam, Noordam and Westerdam. Guests on cancelled cruises this weekend will receive a 100 per cent refund and 100 per cent future cruise credit. Compensation for other cancelled voyages is to be confirmed.
Hurtigruten – operating, but with restrictions
Embarkation on Hurtigruten’s ships on the Norwegian coast is only allowed for guests who have not been outside Norway for the last 14 days and there is a strict embarkation policy for expedition cruises too. More details here.
Marella Cruises – planned restart date March 28
A statement read: “All customers affected will be proactively notified and automatically issued a full refund. The cruise line understands that this may be disappointing for customers but felt that given the constantly changing situation cruises operating during the next two weeks would fall short of the experience it wants to give its customers. Marella Cruises would like to thank its customers for their understanding during this unprecedented time.”
MSC Cruises – planned restart date May 1
MSC Cruises is stopping all US-based embarkations until April 30, in addition to operations in the Mediterranean, the Gulf and Asia. Ships in South America and South Africa will also cease operations at their end of their current itineraries. Guests are being offered a future cruise credit for 100 per cent of the original fare paid, plus additional on board credit. The credit can be used on any sailing departing on or before December 31, 2021. Guests who are unable to reschedule will receive a full refund.
Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises – planned restart date April 12
All guests on impacted voyages across the three sister brands’ 28 ships will receive a 125% refund of the fare paid in the form of a future cruise credit, which can be applied toward any future cruise through December 31, 2022. For guests who wish to not avail themselves of the 125% future cruise credit, a 100% refund of the fare paid will be reimbursed to the original form of payment within 90 days of guests’ request.
P&O Cruises – planned restart date April 11
The line is suspending all new cruises. For all guests impacted by this temporary suspension, P&O Cruises will provide a 125 per cent future cruise credit. This credit will be applied automatically to their guest account for use on a P&O Cruises holiday departing before the end of March 2022. This summer P&O Cruises plans to launch Iona, a new 5,200-guest ship. President Paul Ludlow said: “Given the immediate situation we are also looking at Iona’s itineraries in light of current restrictions in Norway and will provide an update to guests when we have more clarity.”
Princess Cruises – planned restart date May 11
Princess Cruises is pausing global operations of its 18 cruise ships for voyages departing March 12 to May 10. Those currently onboard a cruise that will end in the next five days will continue to sail as expected through to the end of the itinerary so that onward travel arrangements are not disrupted. Current voyages that are under way and extend beyond March 17 will be ended at the most convenient location for guests, factoring in operational requirements. For those affected, Princess is offering guests the opportunity to transfer 100% of the money paid for their cancelled cruise to a future cruise of their choice. To add a bonus incentive for guests to accept this offer, the company will add an additional future cruise credit benefit which can be applied to the cruise fare or onboard expenses. In addition, Princess will honour this offer for those guests who had made final payment and cancelled their booking on or after February 4, 2020. The future cruise credit can be used on any voyage departing through to May 1, 2022. If the future cruise credit option does not work for some guests, they will be able to complete an electronic form on Princess.com to request a cash refund.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd – planned restart date April 11
Royal Caribbean’s brands – Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara – are stopping their global operations. Those cruises currently taking place will continue as planned but no new cruises will depart. For those customers affected by the suspension, the cruise lines are offering a 125 per cent future cruise credit to be used by December 31, 2001 or a full refund instead. Pre-purchased packages such as internet, drinks and any shore excursions will be automatically refunded.
Saga – planned restart date May 1
The over-50s specialist will be hit especially hard by the updated travel advice from the government, which advises people aged 70 and over and those with pre-existing health conditions against cruise ship travel at this time. Cruise customers who were due to travel in the next six weeks will be offered either a full refund or a credit for a future departure.
Seabourn – planned restart date April 11
Seabourn is pausing global operations for its five ships for 30 days. Current voyages that are underway will end by March 22. Guests on impacted voyages will receive a 125 per cent future cruise credit, which can be applied to any cruise through December 31, 2021 or a refund of 100 per cent of the original fare. “In this unprecedented situation, we feel a pause is necessary,” said Rick Meadows, president of Seabourn. “Our pause should also reassure the hundreds of destinations we visit each year that we want to be responsbile in our operations as we bring travellers into their communities each time we visit.”
Scenic Group river cruises – planned restart date May 1
The Scenic Group (Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours and Emerald Cruises) has suspended all river cruise operations until April 30. Guests whose river cruise departures are within this period of suspended operations are being offered the choice of either a future travel credit valued at 125% of the booking, or the option of a refund to the value of the amount paid. Guests choosing a future travel credit will have up to 24 months to travel on a Scenic Group river cruise.
Uniworld – planned restart date April 23
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has suspended all European itineraries until April 23, offering guests the opportunity to rebook travel dates to any 2020 or 2021 cruise or receive a future cruise credit eligible to be used during the next 24 months. For bookings after April 23, guests can now cancel up to 14 days prior to their cruise and rebook on any 2020 or 2021 cruise without penalty or have the option to rebook with The Travel Corporation sister brands sister brands – from Trafalgar to Insight Vacations – for 2020 to 2021.
Tui River Cruises – planned restart date May 3
Tui has postponed the launch of its new river cruises. A debut event for the first vessel was planned to start on Monday March 23. The first public sailings were due to depart on March 29, with itineraries on a number of European waterways. Customers booked on to departures up to and including May 2 will get a full refund or can re-book onto any other available sailing until October 31, 2020. If they choose to amend to a later sailing and the new cruise is more expensive the difference in cost will be covered. And if it costs less than the original booking they will be refunded the difference. In a statement the company said: “We have been working hard for the last year to get our three ships river-worthy and to welcome our first guests on-board, so of course this is disappointing. But in the current unprecedented situation we know our customers will understand and support this decision.”
Viking – planned restart date May 1
Viking was the first to announce a complete temporary suspension of all cruises, a radical move swiftly followed by others. Operations are suspended for both Viking River Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises between March 12 and April 30. For those guests whose cruise falls within this window of suspended operations, Viking is offering the choice of a future cruise voucher valued at 125% of all monies paid to Viking or a refund equal to the amount paid. Guests will have 24 months to use their future cruise voucher to make a new reservation on any river, ocean or expedition cruise. If they are unable to use their voucher, Viking will automatically issue a refund equal to the original amount paid to Viking after the voucher expires. These vouchers will also be fully transferable.
Virgin Voyages – planned restart date August 7
This brand new cruise line, dreamt up by Sir Richard Branson, has postponed a showcase tour planned for its first ship, Scarlet Lady and the maiden voyage. The inaugural season will start on July 15 and the maiden voyage will take place on August 7. Affected guests will receive a 200 per cent future voyage credit, and will also receive up to $500 in on board credit if they rebook before June 30. It will also be possible to get a 100 per cent refund of the voyage fare for an impacted sailing, plus a 25 per cent future voyage credit. The line plans to launch another three ships after Scarlet Lady.
Windstar Cruises – planned restart date May 1
Windstar’s six small yachts carrying 148-342 passengers will suspend operations through to April 30. Guests on cancelled cruises will receive the choice of a future cruise credit valued at 125% of all monies paid to Windstar Cruises or a refund equal to the amount paid on the Windstar booking. Guests will have 24 months to book and embark on any available Windstar cruise using their credit.