Voices of Travel

Princess, Viking Suspend Operations Until May

Both Princess Cruises and Viking have announced that they will be pausing their operations due to the impact of COVID-19 until early May.

In what it describes as a proactive response to the unpredictable circumstances evolving from the global spread of COVID-19 — and in an abundance of caution — Princess Cruises is voluntarily pausing global operations of its 18 cruise ships for two months (60 days), impacting voyages departing March 12 to May 10.

Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, said: “Princess Cruises is a global vacation company that serves more than 50,000 guests daily from 70 countries as part of our diverse business, and it is widely known that we have been managing the implications of COVID-19 on two continents.”

Swartz continued: “By taking this bold action of voluntarily pausing the operations of our ships, it is our intention to reassure our loyal guests, team members and global stakeholders of our commitment to the health, safety and well-being of all who sail with us, as well as those who do business with us, and the countries and communities we visit around the world.”

In its announcement, Princess indicates that those currently onboard a cruise that will end in the next five days will continue to sail as expected through the end of the itinerary so that onward travel arrangements are not disrupted. Current voyages that are underway and extend beyond March 17 will be ended at the most convenient location for guests, factoring in operational requirements.

Princess will do everything possible to return each guest home with the greatest amount of care possible. During this time, our operations and medical teams across the fleet will remain vigilant in their care and service for guests and crew onboard.

For those who are impacted by this business decision, Princess is offering guests the opportunity to transfer 100% of the money paid for their cancelled cruise to a future cruise of their choice. To add a bonus incentive for guests to accept this offer, the company will add an additional generous future cruise credit benefit which can be applied to the cruise fare or onboard expenses.

In addition, Princess will honour this offer for those guests who had made final payment and cancelled their booking on or after Feb. 4, 2020. The future cruise credit can be used on any voyage departing through May 1, 2022.

As well, Princess 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, in recognition of the critical role they play in the cruise line’s business and success.

If the future cruise credit option does not work for some guests, they will be able to complete an electronic form on Princess.com to request a cash refund.

Princess asks guests not to call the Reservation Call Center due to the possibility of high call volumes and the potential of long on-hold wait times due to this unprecedented action.

Guests and their travel advisors will be sent communications on how to manage cancellations and desired compensation.

Information and instructions for requesting a refund are available online at Princess.com .

In a video posted on YouTube Jan Swartz shares that “while this is a difficult business decision, we firmly believe it is the right one and is in alignment with our company’s core values. Rest assured the long-serving and dedicated professionals at our company will make best use of this time to prepare Princess Cruises’ fleet of cruise ships for a successful return to operation to serve our guests by delivering an exceptional vacation experience.”

Loyal guests, employees, travel advisor partners and business partners around the world have asked what they can do support Princess Cruises and its more than 35,000 team members in these challenging times.

The answer is simple – book a cruise with Princess and bring your family and friends along. The company offers over 180 itineraries to popular and exotic destinations around the globe.

Princess Cruises plans to be back in operation beginning with cruises departing May 11, 2020.

 

Viking Temporarily Suspending Operations

Viking is temporarily suspending its river and ocean cruise operations until May 1 due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation.

The decision was announced by Viking’s chairman, Torstein Hagen in a video (go to https://www.vikingcruisescanada.com/notice/update-video.html) and letter sent to passengers currently booked on the cruise company’s sailings.

In the letter, Hagen writes:

“Since we started Viking nearly 23 years ago, we have always cared first and foremost about our guests and our employees. I feel we have become one large Viking family of 500,000 guests each year and 10,000 employees. Since day one, it has been our mission to create experiences for our guests that focus on the destination and allow them to explore the world in comfort. This has always been Viking’s ambition and will remain so.”

He continues: “I am sure you recognize that COVID-19 has made travel exceedingly complicated. An increasing number of ports, including Venice, Monte Carlo and Bergen, have temporarily closed to cruise ships; major attractions such as the Vatican and other museums have been closed; and some countries are imposing restrictions on public gatherings and visitors.”

Viking’s chairman points out that: “In recent days we have had an experience where a river cruise guest in Southeast Asia was exposed to COVID-19 while in transit on an international airline. While this guest is not exhibiting symptoms, she has been placed in quarantine. Separately, the remaining 28 guests will also be quarantined.”

And Hagen explains that: “I am writing today because the situation has now become such that operating as a travel company involves significant risks of quarantines or medical detentions, which could diminish the travel experiences for which our guests have been planning. As a private company with strong finances, we do not have to worry about quarterly profit expectations – and that flexibility allows us the ability to do what is best for our guests and our employees, as we have always done.”

He goes on: “Therefore, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend operations of our river and ocean vessels embarking from March 12 to April 30, 2020 – at which time we believe Viking will be in a better place to provide the experiences our guests expect and deserve. This is a decision we made with a heavy heart, but with present circumstances what they are, we are unable to deliver the high-quality Viking experience for which we are known.”

Hagen adds that: “For those guests whose cruise falls within this window of suspended operations, we are offering the choice of a Future Cruise Voucher valued at 125% of all monies paid to Viking or a refund equal to the amount paid. Guests will have 24 months to use their Future Cruise Voucher to make a new reservation on any river, ocean or expedition cruise. For additional flexibility, if you are unable to use your voucher, we will automatically send you a refund equal to the original amount paid to Viking after the voucher expires. These Future Cruise Vouchers will also be fully transferable.”

He writes: “Rest assured, our reservations team is currently in the process of issuing Future Cruise Vouchers of 125% of all monies paid to Viking. However, if you would prefer the alternative please call Viking at 1-833-900-0951 or contact your travel agent by March 25, 2020.”

Hagen continues: “We will also keep looking forward as we plan to continue expansion of our destination-focused travel experiences. In addition to our many award-winning river and ocean cruises, in early 2022 we will launch our expedition journeys to the Arctic and Antarctica, as well as North America’s Great Lakes. And, at the beginning of April 2020, we will announce our newest river voyages closer to home, in America’s heartland.”

And Viking’s chairman concludes: “We will stand by our guests, employees and partners in these challenging times and hope that they in turn will stand by us.”

Go to www.viking.com .

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