COVID-19 UPDATE: HAL, MSC, Transat, Cunard And More

Holland America, MSC, Rocky Mountaineer, Cunard, Carnival extend their service pause; a “Hapi” message from the Solomon Islands; a new video from the U.S. Virgin Islands; SAA; Shep; and more.

Holland America Extends Pause

Holland America is advising that due to the continued port closures and travel restrictions surrounding global health concerns, it’s extending its pause of global cruise operations for an additional 30 days, cancelling sailings scheduled to depart through May 14, 2020.

Guests currently booked on cruises from April 14 through May 14 and their travel advisors will receive notification from Holland America Line in the coming days regarding options for selecting either a Future Cruise Credit for 125% of their booking value plus an additional $250 shipboard credit or a full refund.

Holland America’s president, Orlando Ashford said of the decision: “As the world addresses global health concerns, travel has come to a temporary standstill as communities take necessary precautions to protect themselves. All of us at Holland America Line are wishing everyone the best during this unprecedented time.”

Agents should not that all bookings will automatically be cancelled through May 14. Guests do not need to call to cancel, however, they may visit to indicate their preference for a 125% Future Cruise Credit with the bonus $250 shipboard credit or 100% refund. Holland America Line will reimburse cancellation fees for air and other arrangements for travel to and from the cancelled cruise.  (This does not apply to chartered sailings.)

As well, the cruise is requesting that all those booked on cruises from April 14 through May 14 do not call reservations for assistance as hold times are expected to be very long, and their booking will automatically be cancelled over the coming week.

And it adds that recognizing the vital role travel advisors play in the success of the cruise industry, Holland America Line will protect travel advisor commissions on bookings for cancelled cruises that were paid in full and for the total amount of the Future Cruise Credits when guests rebook.

MSC Extends Fleet-Wide Halt

MSC Cruises is further extending the halt of all its new cruise departures fleet-wide through to May 29, in light of the continued extraordinary circumstances the world is facing in connection with the Covid-19 virus global health emergency. Previously, MSC had temporarily halted the operation of all of its ships globally through to April 30.

As governments around the world have further strengthened public health and safety measures ashore to protect local populations and contain the further spread of the virus, MSC’s decision to further extend this extraordinary measure aims to mirror and further support the effectiveness of such efforts.

The cruise company said that it is working tirelessly with all guests and their travel agents to address the impact of this necessary decision to their bookings on our ships up to May 29 and it is genuinely sorry for the inconvenience that this will cause them.

By announcing this now, the company intends to provide travel agents and guests who are booked on affected sailings with as much time as possible to move their booking to a future cruise.

MSC Cruises is offering guests affected by this extraordinary measure the opportunity to transfer the full amount paid for their cancelled vacation plus an additional generous credit benefit to a future cruise of their choice at any point through the end of 2021.

Rocky Mountaineer Extends Season Delay

Rocky Mountaineer will extend the delay of its travel season and suspend all train departures until July 1. The season was scheduled to start on April 13, and was initially delayed until the end of April.

Guests on suspended departures will receive a future travel credit for 110% of the value paid, which can be applied to a new departure in the 2020, 2021 or 2022 seasons. The guests can contact their travel professional or the Rocky Mountaineer sales centre before November 30, 2021 to apply the future travel credit.

“Our team is incredibly disappointed in not being able to start our season as originally planned. With the Canadian borders closed to international travellers until June 30 and other global travel mandates, it has become impossible for us to operate while these restrictions are in place,” said Steve Sammut, president and chief executive officer of Rocky Mountaineer. “In addition to the future travel credit for guests impacted by the suspended departures, we have waived all fees associated with changing travel dates, so guests who are proactively calling us can move their train journey to later this year or 2021. Our hope is this will offer guests greater flexibility and time to make a decision regarding their travel plans. We sincerely thank our partners, guests, and team members for their patience and understanding as we work through these challenging times.”

The resumption date of Rocky Mountaineer’s operations will be determined in accordance with travel restrictions and mandates from the Canadian and other international governments.

Carnival To Continue Operations Pause Until May 11

Carnival Cruise Line is extending its pause of North American operations to May 11.

“We are working with our guests to address this disruption to their vacation plans and extend our apologies,” the company said in a statement. “For our guests’ convenience, we have automated the customer service process and urge our guests and travel agent partners to please use the online forms as requested in emails being sent. Our offices in Greater Miami remain closed at the direction of local officials and our ability to handle calls has been severely impacted by the ongoing situation. The web address for customers to make a selection is Please note that requests can only be submitted through this link for sailings impacted by these cancellations.”

Cunard Prolongs Suspensions For An Additional Month

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, Cunard has made the decision to take the preventative measure of extending the suspension of all voyages an additional month from April 11 up to and including May 15.

Cunard will continue to monitor government guidelines and travel restrictions in ports of call around the world, and this may mean there are further changes to the timing of when each of the ships returns to service.

“The impact of COVID-19 is affecting personal routines and businesses as well as placing significant travel restrictions around the world,” Simon Palethorpe, President, Cunard said. “Everyone in the Cunard team is aware of the need to support the management and containment of COVID-19 globally. This includes protecting the health and safety of our guests and crew. It is therefore right we extend the pause in operations.”

“It is too soon to know exactly how this situation will evolve,” he added. “But I do know that we, the Cunard team, will commit all our resources, energy and talent to weather this storm and come out stronger than ever for our guests. We have been sailing for 180 years and we look forward to many more. We will get through these tough times together and look forward to welcoming our guests back on board again soon, when the time is right.”

For all guests impacted by this temporary suspension, Cunard will provide a 125% Future Cruise Credit. This Future Cruise Credit will be applied automatically to their guest account for use on a future Cunard voyage. This can be redeemed against any new booking, on any voyage sailing before the end of March 2022, providing the booking is made by the end of December 2021.

A Message From The “Hapi Isles”

We all need some “Hapi” now and here’s a positive message from the team selling the Solomon Islands.

“We Solomon Islanders have an innate ability to smile through even the darkest of days.”

“And there’s nothing that makes us happier than an opportunity to have you come visit our wondrous Solomon Islands and see for yourself just why we are so uniquely different.”

“That time might not be right just now – but it won’t be long before the time IS right and when that happens, we will be more than ready, complete with the biggest of smiles, to show you some of our true Solomon Islands hospitality.”

“We are known as the ‘Hapi Isles’ for a very good reason.”

“If you have already booked, there’s no need to cancel – just postpone your visit until the time is right.”

“We’re not going anywhere, we’re very much here and we’re very much still smiling.”

“But plis – no kam yet.”

In The Photo: Seen in the photo are Tourism Solomons’ head of sales and marketing, Fiona Teama (kneeling on right) with members of the Honiara-based head office team.

US Virgins Update Video

For those looking for an update on the US Virgin Islands, you can check on the latest on how the destination is handling the COVID-19 situation in a new video.


Air Transat Operates More Special Flights

Air Transat continues to bring Canadians home, operating special flights to Haiti and Honduras, along with additional flights to El Salvador and Guatemala.

In all, Air Transat has a total of six flights its operating in conjunction with the Government of Canada

Jean-Marc Eustache observed that: “Ever since the tightening of international borders, our flight operations have been dedicated to repatriating travellers to their countries of origin. Until the temporary suspension of our operations on April 1, we will continue to work tirelessly toward this single goal.”

The carrier operated a flight from Guatemala City to Montreal on March 29; and on March 30, it operated flights from San Salvador to Montreal; from Port-au-Prince to Montreal; and from Roatan to Montreal.

Global Affairs Canada is coordinating the efforts for all Canadians wishing to return home aboard these special flights. Canadians abroad are strongly encouraged to register with Global Affairs Canada by completing this form:

This will allow the Government of Canada to provide them with updated information as soon as it becomes available. Canadians who require emergency assistance are invited to send an email to [email protected].

“Ensuring the health and safety of Canadians both at home and abroad is our top priority,” says the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs. “We continue to work around the clock to provide all possible aid to Canadians stuck abroad due to the COVID-19 crisis. As part of these efforts, we are collaborating with Air Transat to facilitate flights for Canadians who wish to return home.”

SAA Temporarily Shutting Down Offices

South African Airways (SAA) says that following careful consideration and in order to comply with South Africa’s national 21-day lock-down to contain the spread of COVID-19, it will temporarily suspend all commercial operations at the SAA offices throughout the world until April 16, 2020.

This move follows SAA’s decision to suspend domestic flights in the South African market until April 17 and the regional Africa and international markets until May 31, 2020.

As a result, South African Airways’ North America Regional Office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and all commercial departments have temporarily suspended operations and will remain closed until April 16, 2020.

The carrier advises that for those customers holding unused tickets issued on South African Airways, there is no need to worry and no need to contact us now.

All customers holding an unused ticket will be able to use its full value as a credit for travel on SAA-operated flights over the next two (2) years) for travel up to March 25, 2022.

SAA will permit routing changes, as well as, a free name change, if the original customer no longer wishes to travel.

Todd Neuman, executive vice-president for SAA in North America, said: “We recognize that this is a challenging period for everyone with the unprecedented impact on the global travel and tourism industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is part of SAA’s commitment to offer support during these uncertain times and provide flexibility to encourage customers to reschedule their travel to Africa at a later date.”

For information on SAA’s Flexible Travel Policy, customers and travel advisors that require assistance with rebooking travel for future dates, should visit: or .

Shep Helping With COVID-19 Notifications

Corporate travel startup, Shep, is helping address the Coronavirus COVID-19 challenge by giving their emergency notification service, Shep Notify, away for free.

The startup’s browser extension is typically used to capture corporate travel data and pop up policy notifications on top of consumer travel sites.

Companies can now use Shep to deliver the latest health and safety messages, informing business travellers about their company’s travel restrictions across more than 1,000 different booking sites, from Concur to Airbnb, Expedia, Delta, and more.

As well, Shep’s travel notifications can provide health alerts, travel advisories and even links out to external resources like the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) frequently asked Coronavirus questions or a company’s own COVID-19 resource page.

Once the pandemic slows down and travel begins to resume, Shep can then start to guide employees on which cities they can and can’t travel to.

Shep has partnered with global travel management company (TMC), FCM Travel Solutions, to support the rollout of this emergency notification technology to companies of all sizes for free.

Daniel Senyard, CEO of Shep, said: “Since investing in us early this year, FCM has been a great partner and have proven invaluable in helping us think through how best to customize Shep for corporate clients.”

John Morhous, chief experience officer at FCM parent company, Flight Centre Travel Group, commented: “In this challenging time we need to work together to support all travelers. We’re happy to support rolling out Shep for free to all companies, no matter which TMC they use.”

Currently, Shep is available on the Chrome app store without charge and can be installed by individual employees in the USA and Canada.

Travel managers can reach out to the Shep team at [email protected] to help upload employees and customize travel notifications.

Go to for more.