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Cruise lines offering perks to lure travellers back

Cruise lines eye restart

The cruise ship industry wants travellers to know it expects to soon be back in business, with some scheduling cruises as soon as April.

To soothe any concerns guests might have regarding the coronavirus pandemic, many are offering guarantees that include either full cancellation refunds or adding extra perks if they rebook.

On March 13, Transport Canada issued a formal health advisory, recommending that Canadians avoid going on cruise ships at this time due to COVID-19 and the health risk it poses, particularly in such close quarters.

The federal government also deferred the start of the cruise ship season in Canada, from April 2 to July 1, at the earliest, for ships capable of carrying more than 500 passengers and crew.

But now the cruise ship industry wants to rebuild. Here’s a quick look last what some of the cruise lines are offering.

American Cruise Line: river cruises

Voluntarily suspended operations until April 30

The new plan includes assurance from American that it will protect Travel Advisor (agents) commissions for bookings impacted by COVID-19. Earlier this month, American proactively rolled out flexible new options for guests and has now bundled them into one simple Travel Advisor Assurance Plan for agents.

This new option offers flexibility to guests for all new and existing bookings on cruises departing through Aug. 31, 2020. Guests opting for this offer have the ability to cancel for any reason up to 24-hours prior to the start of their cruise package and to receive cruise vouchers equal to 100 per cent of the amounts paid.

Guests booked on any cruises that have been suspended by American have the option to receive a full money-back refund or cruise vouchers equal to 125 per cent of all amounts paid for their package.

Globus: Globus, Cosmos, Monograms and Avalon Waterways

Voluntarily suspended operations until April 30

Its new plan provides travellers booked to depart from now through April 30, 2020 the freedom to reschedule their vacation in 2020, 2021 or 2022 to any destination, with any of the Globus family of brands, without incurring cancellation fees.

The plan also offers travellers an additional credit of $50 to $200 CDN per person (depending on which brand they originally booked with) when they reschedule their plans.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Voluntarily suspended operations until April 11

Guests who were booked on suspended cruises with embarkation dates from March 13 through April 11 will automatically receive a 125 per cent or 150 per cent refund (depending on the original cruise date) of their cruise fare in the form of a future cruise credit, which can be applied towards any Norwegian Cruise Line voyage through Dec. 31, 2022. Future cruise credits will be applied to their account by April 1, 2020.

For all cruises through Sept. 30, guests can cancel up to 48 hours prior to their vacation start date and receive a future cruise credit for sailings through December 2022.

For all cruises Oct. 1 and beyond, guests can cancel for a full refund up to 120 days before their cruise.

Other changes include: rigorous pre-embarkation screenings, no-touch temperature checks for all guests and crew, disinfection and sanitization protocols on all ships

Royal Caribbean

Voluntarily suspended operations until May 12

Royal Caribbean will now let guests cancel any cruise that sets sail from now through July 31, 2020. Whether it’s a booking you already have or one you make right now, you’re covered.

As long as guests cancel at least 48 hours before they set sail, they’ll receive a future cruise credit, which can be used toward any cruise that sets sail through Dec. 31, 2021.

Carnival Cruises

Voluntarily suspended operations until April 10

Carnival is also offering full refunds on certain cruises and extra credits up to $600 for guests who reschedule their cruise. 

Staring this year, Carnival will be denying boarding to guests 70 years of age or older unless they have a letter from their physician confirming they are fit to sail. Additionally, all guests will be asked if they have been hospitalized in the past two months or if they have a history of chronic or severe medical conditions.

Chronic conditions are defined as an illness persisting for a long time or constantly recurring, such as diabetes, heart, kidney or lung disease. Additional severe medical conditions include: suppressed immunity (active cancer, taking steroids) or if the person requires oxygen for any reason. Guests with chronic or severe medical conditions will not be allowed to sail.

Holland America

Voluntarily suspended operations until April 15

For cruises departing on or before July 31, 2020, guests can cancel their cruise no less than 48 hours before departure and a future cruise credit will be automatically applied to their mariner number in approximately two weeks — no further action is required.

For bookings made between March 1 and April 30, 2020 on cruises departing Aug. 1 to Oct. 15, 2020, guests must complete a form to receive a future cruise credit.

Canadians who are planning to travel abroad are reminded to consult the Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories and register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service.



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