More Cruise Lines Suspend, Postpone Operations

Following the lead of Princess and Viking, numerous other cruise lines, including Uniworld, Windstar and Disney, have announced plans to suspend or postpone operations due to concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak.

Windstar Cruises announced it is temporarily suspending operations worldwide for cruises embarking March 14 through April 30.

“After much thought, we believe we are making the most responsible decision we can during this coronavirus pandemic,” said Christopher Prelog, chief operating officer of Windstar Cruises. “This worldwide pause in the operation of our fleet of small ships is an effort to curb the spread of the virus and keep our guests, crew and the communities we visit, safe and healthy. We look forward to resuming operations again on May 1 with a return to offering our 180 degrees from ordinary vacation experience.”

Cruises will begin operating again according to schedule on May 1.

Guests on cancelled cruises will receive the choice of a Future Cruise Credit valued at 125% of all monies paid to Windstar Cruises or a refund equal to the amount paid on the Windstar booking. Guests will have 24 months to book and embark on any available Windstar cruise using their Future Cruise Credit. Windstar will protect agent commissions on the affected bookings.

Virgin Voyages has postponed the “Showcase Tour” launch and inaugural sailing season for Scarlet Lady until July 15, with the line’s Maiden Voyage now scheduled for Aug. 7.

In a statement made by Sir Richard Branson, “The business is well supported and our partnership between the Virgin Group and Bain Capital means that Virgin Voyages can remain focused on the health and safety of our Sailors and Crew.

“We want to make this change as convenient and fair as possible. So we are offering a range of options from a full refund and a voyage credit to extra special bonuses if you book a future sailing. The choice is entirely up to our Sailors, as it should be.”

Yesterday, the Walt Disney Company announced it is suspending all new Disney Cruise Line departures starting March 14. The suspensions will last through March.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has suspended all European itineraries until April 23.

Affected guests can rebook any 2020 or 2021 cruise or receive a future cruise credit to be used in the next 24 months.

In a statement, Uniworld president Ellen Bettridge said, “We have been closely monitoring the world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and given recent news, we do not believe we can continue to offer the award-winning Uniworld experience you have come to expect and deserve at this time…

“Our updated cancellation policy will allow guests more time to make decisions about upcoming travels. For bookings after April 23, guests can now cancel up to 14 days prior to their cruise and rebook on any 2020 or 2021 cruise without penalty or have the option to rebook with our TTC sister brands – from Trafalgar to Insight Vacations – for 2020 to 2021. Our team stands at the ready to assist you as we navigate through this process together.”

AmaWaterways has issued a statement announcing the delay of its European sailing season.

AmaWaterways president Rudi Schreiner said the line is voluntarily suspending operations of its European river cruise fleet and delaying the start of the 2020 European sailing season until April 26. It is also suspending Mekong River cruises starting March 23.

Guests who were booked on a cruise that is being cancelled have the option of receiving a Future Cruise Credit equal to 115% of the value of all services purchased through AmaWaterways or receiving a full monetary refund. The Future Cruise Credit is applicable on all Europe or Mekong River cruise sailings any time before Dec. 31, 2022.

Additionally, the company will fully protect the commission of travel advisors whose clients opt for a Future Cruise Credit, as well as pay an additional 10% commission on the value of the future booking.

Avalon Waterways is temporarily pausing global operations for travel through April 30.

The river cruise line’s guest services team is in contact with guests affected by the suspension in order to adjust their plans for future travel.

With the temporary suspension of operations, Avalon is offering options to move travel dates or cancel bookings for travel through April 30.

Celestyal Cruises is taking preventative measures and suspending cruise operations until May 1. This action is as a result of the unavoidable circumstances arising out of the continued spread of COVID-19 and increased worldwide government advisories and restrictions prohibiting guests from leaving and re-entering their home countries.

In a statement, the cruise line said that, “We all currently face a situation that it is unknown, extraordinary, unpredictable, and constantly changing and, as a result, is causing major disruption to travel. As the World Health Organization (WHO) recently said, “every sector and every individual must be involved in the fight against COVID-19,” and Celestyal Cruises is following this advice and that of health professionals and regulators around the world, and acting accordingly in order to reduce the risk of quarantine or medical detentions for our guests and crew.”

It also noted that with an increasing number of temporary closures to cruise ports for select nationals, major attractions and some countries imposing restrictions on public gatherings and visitors, a destination rich company such as Celestyal Cruises is prevented from delivering our promised experience at this time.

Therefore, we have made the difficult yet responsible decision due to Force Majeure of suspending sailings between March 14 and April 30. We plan to recommence from May 1 with our three-night Iconic Aegean on Celestyal Olympia and May 2 with the seven-night Eclectic Aegean on Celestyal Crystal as scheduled.

For all named and fully paid guests impacted by this temporary suspension, we will offer the choice of either a Future Cruise Credit valued at 120% of the original booking value or a refund of the original amount paid.

Guests will have until the end of December 2021 to use their Future Cruise Credit against any of our itineraries. For additional flexibility, anyone that has not used their Future Cruise Credit within the specified period, will automatically receive a refund equal to the original amount paid to Celestyal.

To continue to provide optimal customer service, Celestyal Cruises will issue certificates for Future Cruise Credits for all impacted guests as per above. The certificates will be sent directly to the guest or their travel advisor, unless otherwise advised.  There is no need for guests to contact Celestyal should they choose the Future Cruise Credit option.

Affected sailings are:

  • Seven-Night Three Continents: March 14, 21 and 28
  • Seven-Night Eclectic Aegean: April 4, 11, 18 and 25
  • Three- and Four-Night Iconic Aegean: March 16 through April 30

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