Luxury cruise lines are continuing to adapt their cancellation and change policies due to the evolving coronavirus situation. Most recently, The U.S. State Department changed its travel advisory for COVID-19 precautions, saying, "U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship." Representatives from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and major cruise lines also met with Vice President Mike Pence and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to coordinate the cruise industry’s response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Silversea, Azamara and Celebrity Cruises
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. cruise brands—Azamara, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International—as well as Silversea (in which the company owns a 67 percent stake) have adopted the new “Cruise with Confidence” policy, detailed further by our sister publication Travel Agent. Guests booked on a cruise departing prior to July 31, 2020, can cancel up to 48 hours before sailing and receive a full cruise credit to use on any future sailing of the guest’s choice in 2020 or 2021. The policy applies to both new and existing cruise bookings.
Additionally, Silversea reports that it will protect travel advisor commissions on all bookings canceled under the Cruise with Confidence program set to depart between March 9 and July 31, 2020. Under the new policy, which is in addition to the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. program, Silversea will allow travel partners to retain any commissions already paid, and pay commissions on bookings canceled between March 9 and July 31, 2020 after they were paid in full, provided the cancellation occurs outside of the 48-hour cancellation window outlined in the Cruise with Confidence program. Further, bookings made through redemption of these Future Cruise Credits will also be eligible for full commission based on the cruise value of the new booking.
Effective March 10, MSC Cruises is launching its Cruise Assurance program for guests with existing and new reservations through July 31, 2020. For sailings on or before that date, guests have the option to cancel their existing reservation up to 48 hours prior to departure and receive a Future Cruise Credit for the amount paid. The Future Cruise Credit can be applied to any future cruise of their choice departing on or before December 31, 2021.
Holland America Line
Guests booked on a Holland America Line cruise or Alaska Land+Sea Journey through May 31, 2020, can cancel and receive a future cruise credit for the amount of the paid fare which can be used for another cruise in 2020 or 2021. The FCC must be booked by December 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.
Additionally, guests who make a new booking by April 30, 2020, for itineraries that depart on or before October 15, 2020, can cancel for any reason and receive a future cruise credit in the amount of any cancellation fees applied, so long as they cancel up to 30 days before departure.
The cruise line is also offering a Cancellation Protection Plan for new cruises or Alaska Land+Sea Journeys. The program, offering a Standard or Platinum plan, allows guests to cancel up to 24 hours before cruise departure with Standard and right up to departure under Platinum and receive refunds from 80 to 90 percent of eligible amounts paid. The cost varies by cruise fare and is nonrefundable.
Oceania Cruises has announced a new Traveler’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, and September 30, 2020.
As part of the policy guests can cancel up to 48 hours prior to departure and receive a future cruise credit equal to 100 percent of the cruise fare paid. Additionally, up to the day of the sailing, should there be another applicable public promotion that offers a better value through amenities or price, guests and advisors will be able to take advantage of that promotional offer and/or price.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Regent Seven Seas Cruises announced enhancements to Regent Reassurance, which provides even more flexibility to give travelers the confidence in taking a Regent cruise.
For all voyages through September 30, 2020, guests who have paid in full now have the option to cancel up to 48 hours prior to sailing and receive a 100 percent Future Cruise Credit, which can be applied to any new booking made within one year on any Regent voyage sailing between March 9, 2020 and December 31, 2022. Regent Reassurance is applicable to all existing and new reservations made by April 30, 2020.
Seabourn is updating its “Book with Confidence” cancellation policy, providing travelers with more flexibility and the option to cancel their booking up to 48 hours prior to departure and receive a future cruise credit.
For existing and new bookings made through July 31, 2020, guests may cancel up to 48 hours prior to departure and receive a 100 percent future cruise credit of any payment already made to Seabourn and currently within cancellation fees. Guests receiving a future cruise credit will have until December 31, 2020 to book for any published voyages departing prior to December 31, 2021.
Lindblad Expeditions reports that, if it elects to cancel a voyage, guests will receive a full refund. If a guest cancels a 2020 cruise departing April 1 or later with at least 24 hours’ notice, they will receive a 100 percent fare credit, which they can use on any future sailing in 2020 or 2021. The policy will stay in effect at least through June 30, 2020.
Celestyal Cruises has issued a new “Peace of Mind” policy that will cover current bookings for travel through June 30. Under the new policy, customers will be able to alter their plans up to seven days prior to the sailing date without incurring cancellation fees. They will receive a 100 percent future cruise credit that can then be applied towards a 2020 or 2021 cruise. This is addition to any new cruise bookings made between now and April 30, 2020 for travel during 2020-2021, which can also be changed up to seven days prior to the sailing date without incurring any penalty or cancellation fees. Guests sailing on the March 14, 2020 seven-night Three Continents Cruise and March 16, 2020 four-night Iconic Aegean sailing may also take advantage of the “Peace of Mind Policy*” despite being within seven days of departure.
Sea Cloud Cruises
Sea Cloud Cruises is offering guests on cruises departing in 2020 booked now until May 31 the ability to cancel free of charge up until one month prior to the departure date.
Riviera River Cruises
Riviera River Cruises has made the following changes to its cancellation and deposit policies, effective immediately:
On new bookings, the deposit of $400 will be fully refundable up to 60 days after being made. If booking is canceled after 60 days, the deposit will be transferred to a future 2020 departure.
For clients who have deposited or fully paid, any 2020 booking can be canceled with 24 hours’ notice and will be credited to a future 2020 cruise. If the future cruise costs more, the client will pay the difference.
Avalon Waterways has announced that guests and travel advisors can now reschedule or cancel their river cruise up to three days prior to their scheduled departure date. Previously Avalon, along with its fellow members of the Globus family of brands, had announced a travel policy that allowed for changes up to 30 days prior to departure.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection reports that guests on all 2020 cruises can cancel up to 14 days prior to their cruise and receive a Future Cruise Credit for the penalty amount incurred at the time of cancellation, or they can rebook on any 2020 cruise without penalty. The non-penalized amount will be refunded at the time of cancellation. Guests also have the option to rebook with any Travel Corporation Brand for 2020 or 2021. This new policy will not apply to cruises or tours booked for Obergammerau 2020/2021.