COVID-19 Update: Transat, Tianguis, Sunwing and More

Transat Waives Change Fees on Existing Bookings

Transat is offering its passengers the flexibility to amend existing bookings without charge. This policy applies to all flights and packages booked before March 4 for travel by April 30.

As such, all customers who have booked a flight or package to any destination offered by Transat for travel by April 30 can change their travel dates, hotel or destination – or all three – once at no charge towards travel completed by Dec. 31, 2020. Customers who wish to cancel their reservation can use the credit towards subsequent travel completed by Dec. 31, 2020.

Changes to individual bookings can be made up to three days prior to departure. Should there be a pricing disparity between the initial booking and the new booking, customers will have to pay the supplement, and no refund will be given should the price be lower than the initial price.

Changes to group bookings can be made up to 21 days before departure. Certain conditions apply.

Tianguis Postponed

Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism and the State of Yucatan have announced that Mexico’s annual tourism show, Tianguis Turistico, has been postponed until the fall.

The show was to have taken place in the Yucatan city of Merida later this month, but the “decision to postpone this year’s edition of Tianguis Turistico was a precaution and in alliance with what is taking part in the world at this moment,” organizers said in a statement.

The 45th edition is now scheduled to take place Sept. 19-22.

Sint Maarten Extends Travel Restrictions

Travel restrictions issued by the Government of Sint Maarten have now been increased from 14 to 21 days, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs disclosed on Wednesday.

Jacobs says the business community as well as Government will have to look at ways of allowing workers to work remotely from home, especially for persons who have travelled to COVID-19 hotspots, including those who are not mentioned in the country’s travel restriction lists.

Passengers and airline crew who have been in China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Korea, Macao or Singapore in the past 21 days are not allowed to transit or enter Sint Maarten.

This does not apply to nationals of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (being from Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Netherlands, St. Eustatius, Saba and Sint Maarten); and this does not apply to residents of Sint Maarten.

There are zero cases of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 on Dutch Sint Maarten at this time.


Sunwing Introduces Additional Change Policies

Sunwing is introducing an updated flexible change policy to assist customers who have concerns travelling due to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Customers who booked their vacation prior to March 4 and did not purchase travel insurance or a Sunwing Worry Free Cancellation Waiver can make one change per booking with no fees. Customers can take advantage of this policy if they are scheduled to travel before April 30 so long as the change is requested at least five days or more before the travel date.

New departure dates must be prior to Oct. 31 for travel to the same hotel and destination (subject to availability). If the original destination is no longer offered due to Sunwing’s seasonal schedule, credit can be applied to a package in a new destination. Any difference in fare will apply, if the new package price is lower the difference will not be refunded.

In addition, the tour operator is waiving any administration fees associated with the first change for bookings made between March 4 and March 19. This applies to all new bookings with a departure date from now up to and including June 24. Any change must be requested at least 14 days prior to travel or normal conditions will apply.

Regent Introduces 48-Hour Cancellation Option

Regent Seven Seas Cruises has announced a new temporary change to its cancellation policy to give travellers additional time, if needed, to feel confident in their decision to sail on a currently booked Regent voyage or to sail on a future one.

Regent Reassurance includes all Regent voyages embarking through Sept. 30. Guests who have paid in full on any of these voyages now have the option to cancel their voyage up to 48 hours prior to sailing and receive a 100% Future Cruise Credit, which can be applied to any new reservation within one year on any Regent voyage sailing before Dec. 31, 2022.

Regent Reassurance is applicable to all existing and new reservations made by April 30.

Hurtigruten Introduces Risk-Free Rebookings

Hurtigruten has introduced a risk free flexible rebooking policy allowing guests to change their bookings to any Hurtigruten cruise until the summer of 2021.

“In the current situation, it is important for us to ensure our valued guests get timely and accurate information, and the necessary flexibility as they are planning their adventure with us. We want to make sure that you can explore with confidence,” said Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam.

For all guests booked on departures between March 12 through June 30, the cruise line is offering free rebooking to any future Hurtigruten cruise – expedition or Norwegian coastal – from July 1 to July 1, 2021. The offer is also valid for any new Hurtigruten bookings made by April 30, 2020.

A changed reservation will be reimbursed as a Hurtigruten Future Cruise Voucher in the amount of 100% and 10% discount on future cruise including fees.


New Guatemala, El Salvador Restrictions

Guatemala: Effective March 12, passengers from Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Korea, China and Iran will not be permitted to enter the country, or if not denied entry will be subject to quarantine.

El Salvador: The El Salvadorian president has announced a 30-day nationwide quarantine, and during this time no foreign visitors will be allowed entry into the country.

Caribbean Open For Business

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation and has engaged member countries, as well as the Caribbean Public Health Agency and tourism partners, to inform travel-related health measures that are proportionate to the public health threat and based on local risk assessment.

In a statement, “While there continues to be a limited number of imported coronavirus cases and no cases of local transmission in the region, the health authorities across our membership are taking the necessary steps to limit the number of new cases and to curb the possible spread among our populations from the confirmed imported cases.

“The CTO would like to emphasize that the World Health Organization (WHO) has not called for any travel and trade restrictions as a result of the coronavirus. As a matter of fact, the WHO continues to advise against such restrictions. Local populations and visitors alike are assured that the Caribbean remains open for business.”


Riviera Updates Policies

Riviera River Cruises has temporarily updated its deposit and cancellation policies, and will survey guests as they board its ships.

According to officials, Riviera will soon have thousands of guests on vacation throughout Europe and at this time expects little disruption as none of its cruises pass through areas with “do not travel” advisories.

Effective immediately, updated deposit and cancellation policies are:

Worried about making a deposit: The deposit of $400 will be fully refundable up to 60 days after being made. If booking is cancelled after 60 days, the deposit will be transferred to a future 2020 departure.

Clients who have deposited or fully paid: Any 2020 booking can be cancelled with 24 hours’ notice and will be credited to a future 2020 cruise. If future cruise costs more, client will pay the difference.

Additionally, Riviera guests will be asked to complete a survey on their current health and recent travels before boarding ships. Ships and buses used for excursions will also be well stocked with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.


COPA Gets Flexible

Panama’s COPA Airlines has implemented measures recommended by the Ministry of Health of Panama, the World Health Organization, Disease Control and Prevention of the United States and the International Air Transport Association.

“We enhanced all our surface cleaning processes at our check-in counters and onboard our aircraft, complying with the highest standards of health. This includes lavatories, service carts, tableware, tray tables, seats, windows, screens and overhead compartments, among others,” the airline says.

Disinfectants with ingredients recommended by international authorities are used. Aircraft have high-efficiency air circulation systems and air filters, which regularly purify up to 99.7% of impurities in the air.

COPA is reinforcing procedures that crews implement if a potential case is identified on one of our flights, and COPA has on-board emergency equipment that can be used. Remote medical support is available during flights to provide assistance. The measures are added to others that are already part of regular practices, such as not reusing glasses or cups in cabins.

COPA has also made exchange policies more flexible, providing passengers with more options and the confidence they need to continue travelling with COPA and, if they wish, make adjustments to itineraries without penalties for changes when buying tickets from March 5-31.