As State Department warningsinfuse various media broadcasts and some unlucky passengers wait out quarantine orders before being allowed to step on shore, some cruise lines are making their own announcements in hopes of keeping future bookings alive and fleets at sea rather than in dockyards.
Princess Cruises, perhaps the hardest hit cruise line with its passenger-laden Grand Princess anchored off the California coast and the Diamond Princess recently moored off Japan due to Coronavirus outbreaks and concerns, is temporarily modifying its cancellation policies for cruises and cruise tours departing through May 31, 2020. The cruise line is implementing this revised policy to assist guests making decisions regarding their upcoming cruise vacations during the evolving worldwide COVID-19 situation.
Similarly,Holland America Line and brands under the Royal Caribbean moniker are announcing new programs to offer greater flexibility and choice during these uncertain times.
At Princess, details vary by departure date.
For sailings on April 3 or earlier, passengers can cancel up to 72 hours in advance to receive Future Cruise Credit (FCC) for 100% of cancellation fees. For sailings departing April 4 to May 31, passengers may cancel by March 31 and receive FCC for 100% of cancellation fees. For departures running June 1 through June 30, final payment dates move to 60 days prior to sailing (from 90 days). The policies do not apply to Chartered Cruises.
Guests choosing to keep their bookings as currently scheduled for departures between March 9 and May 31 will receive the following Onboard Credit amounts (USD):
• $100 per cabin for three-day and four-day cruises
• $150 per cabin for five-day cruises
• $200 per cabin for six-day and longer cruises
Future Cruise Credits will automatically be applied to each guests Captain Circle account after they have cancelled.
For guests currently booked on upcoming cruises on Holland America Line the company is temporarily changing its cancellation policy and allowing guests to cancel their cruise or Alaska Land+Sea Journey departing through May 31, 2020. Cancellations will receive a Future Cruise Credit (FCC) for the amount of the paid fare which can be used for another cruise in 2020 or 2021. The FCC must be booked by Dec. 31, 2020, and the cancellation must be made with a minimum of 72 hours in advance of departure date but no later than March 31, 2020. However, guests booked between now and March 9, 2020 may also cancel under this new policy despite being within 72 hours.
For those who choose to keep their cruise plans on departures through May 31, 2020, an Onboard Spending Credit of $200 per stateroom/$100 per person for voyages longer than seven days and $100 per stateroom/$50 per person for voyages less than six days will be automatically applied to their shipboard account as a thank you.
“We fully understand that travelers are uncertain about their future vacations, so we have created two new programs to give both our current booked guests and those who want to cruise later this year more options and confidence for their planning,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “Our plans cover today’s circumstances, which many policies do not; so when combined with our new programs it’s one of the most assured ways to confidently plan your cruise today.”
Lines under the Royal Caribbean brand also have some protection these weeks as information about Covid 19 unfolds. Their “Cruise With Confidence” policy allows guests 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.”
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 July 31, 2020, and will be offered by the company’s global brands: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea. Full details of the “Cruise with Confidence” policy can be found at the respective brand websites.