COVID-19 Update: Scenic, Costa Cruises and More

The Scenic Group is temporarily suspending all European river cruise operations on its Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, Emerald Cruises and Evergreen Cruises & Tours brands until April 30.

SE Asia river cruises are suspended for the remainder of their season, which ends mid-May.

Lisa McCaskill, vice-president, sales and marketing, Scenic Group Canada, said, “With the news of increasing COVID-19 cases in countries around the world, the health and safety of guests and crew is our primary focus. We will continue to ensure they come first and foremost in all our decisions.”

For guests whose river cruise departures are within this period of suspended operations, the Scenic Group is offering 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. All change fees have been waived.

The Scenic Group is also committed to protecting travel agent commissions on bookings for cancelled cruises that have been paid in full and for the total amount of the Future Travel Credits – whether the guest takes a refund or Future Travel Credits.


Universal Theme Parks Closed

Universal Orlando Resort theme parks will be temporarily closed beginning today (March 16) through to the end of March.

Universal Orlando’s hotels and Universal CityWalk will remain open.

Officials report they have created flexible programs for guests who have booked travel packages or tickets. Agents/guests can call 1-877-801-9720 for further details.

WestJet Postpones Travel Trade Expos

Due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, WestJet has postponed its upcoming spring 2020 WestJet Travel Trade Expos.

“We are working to secure new dates for these expos and are currently planning to host them in the fall of 2020 in conjunction with our secondary expos,” WestJet said in a statement.

Costa Suspends Global Operations

Costa Cruises has put on hold its global operations, impacting voyages until April 3.

“As an industry leader, we feel it is our responsibility to be ready to make hard choices when times require it,” said Neil Palomba, president of Costa Cruises. “At Costa, we always have the health and safety of our guests and crew members at heart. Now that these unprecedented circumstances require unprecedented actions to make sure that people across the world stay healthy, we are ready to play our role.”

Costa is currently informing travel agents and their customers about affected sailings. Clients will receive a voucher for a full refund.

No Ban on Travel to Barbados

The Government of Barbados has advised that at this time there are no restrictions on travel to Barbados as a result of COVID-19.

In a release, the Ministry of Health and Wellness confirmed that their measures of screening and testing are underway and “no one has tested positive for the respiratory illness so far.

“With no known cases, we continue to welcome and embrace visitors to our shores, however the protocols established by the Ministry of Health and Wellness to contain any potential spread of the virus, remain in effect.”

They include:

Surveillance measures including utilization of advance passenger information, immigration screening, and Port Health monitoring. All current and proposed actions are based on level of risk determined by Public Health Authorities.

All persons coming to Barbados with a history of having travelled to countries with widespread local transmission are quarantined for a period of 14 days after last exposure.

Barbados has a program for both quarantine and isolation based on the level of risk determined by Public Health Authorities. Both units are guided by standard operation procedures and protocols. Barbados is able to accommodate both high and low risk travellers.

The mandatory quarantine facility is to be used for high risk persons without symptoms.


Cunard Introduces Interim Cancellation Policy

Cunard has implemented an interim policy for all guests with bookings departing through July 31, providing ultimate flexibility.

However, as the COVID-19 situation evolves, the luxury line advises travellers to refer to its web site for the latest travel advice and policies.

Guests travelling before the end of August who choose to keep their booking as currently scheduled will have additional onboard credit applied to their booking (bookings made prior to March 11). The amount of credit (applicable per stateroom): $150 for one- to three-night voyages; $300 per stateroom for four- to seven-night voyages; $600 per stateroom for eight- to 14-night voyages; $900 per stateroom for 15-night or longer voyages.

All guests with existing and new bookings on cruises departing prior to July 31 may now cancel up to 48 hours prior to departure.

Cancelled bookings will receive a Future Cruise Credit equivalent to the cancellation fees and refunds will be given on any remaining funds paid.

The Future Cruise Credit may be applied to any voyages sailing by end of March 2022 (bookings to be made before Dec. 31, 2021).

Guests who cancelled bookings between Feb. 1 and March 5 for sailings before the end of July, but who did not opt to convert their cancellation charge into a Future Cruise Credit, will have this automatically credited to their account which will be applicable to voyages sailing before the end of March 2022.

Cunard will protect commissions for cancelled bookings that are paid in full and inside final payment. Future Cruise Credits are also fully commissionable.

Katarina Line Cancels April Departures

Katarina Line has cancelled all April departures, following an announcement by the Croatian government whereby visitors arriving to Croatia are obliged to an isolation period of 14 days.

The company will be reviewing the situation on a daily basis and hopes to commence operations in May.

For existing bookings and any new bookings for 2020, Katarina is implementing flexible cancellation conditions.

Hola Sun Offers More Flexibility

Hola Sun Holidays is now offering more flexibility to its customers in light of the COVID-19 Outbreak.

Hola Sun is waiving the change fee for travellers who wish to rebook their departure date for air only and packages to Cuba. This applies to any booking that was made before March 4 and is valid for departures by April 30. Only one change per reservation.

Travellers can change their travel dates, destination or hotel reservation in Cuba up to 72 hours before departure. The new travel date must be completed by Nov 30. If the traveller decides to cancel, Hola Sun will provide a future travel voucher for a new trip, which must be completed by Dec. 31.

If the selling price for the new booking is more expensive, customers must pay the difference.

Lufthansa Group Airlines Extend Rebooking Options

Lufthansa Group Airlines Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Air Dolomiti are expanding their existing, comprehensive rebooking options due to the exceptional circumstances caused by the spread of the coronavirus.

Customers who have tickets for cancelled and also existing Lufthansa Group Airline flights can keep this ticket without having to commit to a new flight date directly. Existing bookings will be cancelled for the time being, but the ticket and ticket value will remain unchanged and can be rebooked to a new departure date up to and including Dec. 31.

This rule applies to tickets booked up to and including March 12 and having a confirmed travel date up to and including April 30. Customers are requested to inform their airline of their desired rebooking by June 1. No rebooking fees will be charged. If the original fare is no longer available, the corresponding difference must be paid when the rebooking is made. In addition, customers can also rebook to another destination.