Unprecedented Move By Cruise Lines Due To The Coronavirus
In an unprecedented move by cruise lines due to the coronavirus, major cruise lines across the globe have suspended operations starting immediately. Princess Cruises which has had two of their ships impacted by the virus was the first to announce that they are halting sailings through the end of April with Viking Cruises following shortly thereafter. Yesterday, passengers about to travel on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line were actually asked to disembark some 20 minutes after boarding and Carnival Cruise Line passengers indicated that they were not notified by the company that their scheduled March 14 cruise was suspended and instead had to hear the decision on various news outlets after many had already flown to Florida and paid for hotel rooms the night before their cruise which is a common practice.
What should you do if your cruise has been canceled? If you booked through a travel agency, call your agent or agency directly or if you booked on your own, email or put your request for a refund in writing as well as calling. Refund policies vary from company to company and also be aware that almost all airlines are waiving their change of ticket fees and/or offering refunds or airline credit.
Here’s what major cruise lines have said about current and future cruise offerings in the wake of new government guidelines surrounding cruise travel:
Disney Cruise Line
“In an abundance of caution and in the best interest of our guests and employees, Disney Cruise Line has decided to suspend all new departures beginning Saturday, March 14, 2020, through the end of the month. This precautionary measure applies to all four of Disney’s cruise ships.
While we know this decision may be disappointing, the health and wellbeing of our guests is of the greatest importance. We are equally committed to the wellbeing of our incredible crew members who live and work aboard our ships and on Castaway Cay. During the suspended operations, Disney Cruise Line will continue to compensate our Crew Members and shoreside Cast Members.
The Disney Dream will depart on a three-night cruise from Port Canaveral as scheduled on Friday, March 13, and will return to Port Canaveral on Monday, March 16. The Disney Fantasy and Disney Magic will return to port on Saturday, March 14. The Disney Wonder, which is currently in the midst of a westbound Panama Canal cruise, will continue on its scheduled itinerary, with guests disembarking in San Diego on Friday, March 20.
Disney Cruise Line will offer guests affected by this decision a future cruise credit or a full refund, the details of which will be provided directly to them. Given the higher than normal call volume at our Call Center, we ask that affected guests or their travel agents wait to contact Disney Cruise Line until after they receive an email from Disney.”
Below is a list of impacted sailings:
March 28-April 2
March 29-April 5
March 30- April 3
In a proactive response to the unpredictable circumstances evolving from the global spread of COVID-19 and in an abundance of caution, Princess Cruises announced that it will voluntarily pause global operations of its 18 cruise ships for two months (60 days), impacting voyages departing March 12 to May 10.
“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,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “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,” added Swartz.
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 the 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.
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 canceled 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. In addition, Princess will honor this offer for those guests who had made the final payment and canceled their booking on or after February 4, 2020. The future cruise credit can be used on any voyage departing through May 1, 2022.
If the future cruise credit option does not work for some guests, they will be able to complete an online form 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 Future Cruise Credit or Refund are available online.”
Viking Cruises announced it is canceling cruises through April 30, becoming the first major cruise line to take such drastic measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Viking chairman Torstein Hagen wrote in a letter to passengers Wednesday that the company had made the “difficult decision to temporarily suspend operations” for river and ocean cruises beginning Thursday through April 30. It is their hope to return to their cruise schedule beginning May 1.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line will allow passengers who have booked cruises that depart before Sept. 30, 2020 to cancel their cruise without penalty as long as the cancelation is made at least 48 hours before the cruise departs. Passengers that choose to cancel their cruise will be eligible to receive a future cruise credit worth the full amount of their trip which can be redeemed any time before Dec. 31, 2022.
Carnival Cruise Line
Travelers who booked a cruise with Carnival Cruise Line that departs before May 31, 2020 can cancel their cruise up to 72 before the departure date and will receive a future cruise credit for the full cost of their trip. This credit will be redeemable anytime until March 31, 2021. Carnival plans to resume operations on April 10.
“At Royal Caribbean International, the safety and well-being of our guests and crew are always our top priorities. After the decision was made on March 13th to voluntarily suspend our sailings departing from US ports, we’ve now made the decision to also suspend operations for the remainder of our sailings worldwide, effective at midnight, March 15th. Our goal is to resume operations on April 11th, 2020. If you were scheduled to sail during this time, regrettably, we will cancel your upcoming sailing. We will email you and your Travel Advisor details by 6:00 PM EDT on March 14th. If you are currently on a Royal Caribbean International sailing, there’s no need to worry. We will complete our current sailing and debark as planned.”
125% Future Cruise Credit—BEST CHOICE
Receive a Future Cruise Credit for 125% of the original cruise fare paid (excl. Government taxes & fees and prepaid items, which will be refunded to the original form of payment).
The Future Cruise Credit can be used on any sailing departing on or before December 31, 2021.
Request a Refund
We hope you choose to reschedule your cruise for a future date. However, we understand this may not be the ideal option for you. If you choose not to take the Future Cruise Credit, we will provide a refund equal to the original amount paid.
“Celebrity Cruises announced that it is suspending cruising in the United States for 30 days. We understand the gravity of the public health crisis confronting the country. And this is our part to play.So, beginning at midnight, March 14th, we are pausing the fleet’s US sailings for 30 days. We are reaching out to our guests to help them work through this disruption to their vacations, and we are truly sorry for their inconvenience.We are also communicating with our crew to work out the issues this decision presents for them. We know this adds great stress to our guests, employees and crew, and we are working to minimize the disruption. Cruises that depart US ports before March 14th and international cruises will operate their scheduled itineraries. US ships already at sea will finish their itineraries as planned.”
In light of this unprecedented move by cruise lines due to the coronavirus, how has this affected your Spring Break travel plans and do you think what the cruise lines are doing is the right thing to do?