This week, we should have been looking forward to the start of Australia’s summer cruise season, with a rash of announcements about new itineraries, facilities, ports and vessels.
Instead, we’ve seen all the major lines put back the start of cruising – and one line moving to next year.
Carnival Corporation, the parent company of P&O, Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America and Cunard, has announced cancellations until May 16 2021 at the latest and December 2 at the earliest.
Royal Caribbean also announced it won’t be sailing in Australian waters before November 1.
Cunard, who made their announcement earlier this week, has pushed their cancellations the longest – providing three different dates for their three ships. We won’t expect to see Queen Elizabeth return to Australian shores before March 25, 2021.
P&O and Carnival have given the earliest date, both extending pauses in Australia until December 2 this year. Princess has pushed their cancellations until December 12.
Confused? Well, it’s really about the cruise lines trying to juggle ships, crews and available port space with the reality of what ports and governments will actually allow.
It may look like a patchwork quilt designed to baffle long suffering passengers trying to book a holiday, but it really isn’t.
Most cruise line bosses are keeping a low profile at the moment, because they simply can’t guarantee what will happen during the pandemic.
But P&O Cruises President Sture Myrmell explained: “It is clear that society is not yet ready to return to sailing, and we will continue to liaise with governments and public health experts as all align on how people should gather and holiday.
“Like our loyal guests, we remain hopeful that the start of summer will bring new opportunities for the entire travel and tourism industry, which contributes so much to many regional economies around Australia.”
The new president of Seabourn, Josh Leibowitz, told The Australian avid cruisers may have a long wait before setting sail again.
He should know. Before taking over the five-ship ultra luxe line he was Carnival Corporation’s former chief strategy officer.
His view: “Uncertainty rules…No one knows when we will be able to cruise but we are focused on a process and the process is to stay close to the science.”
P&O and Cunard have announced and implemented flexible booking policies for those who wish to book now and accept travel credit if the cruises are cancelled.
Carnival Cruise Line has not changed their cancellation policy and is instead focusing on those already affected by the cancellations, offering them flexible options.
Princess is also offering options for passengers who were booked to travel. Refunds and travel credit are both available depending on each passengers situation. Princess additionally said, in support of the travel industry, they will protect travel agent commissions on bookings for cancelled cruises that were paid in full.
All those affected by the cancellations should contact their travel agent of the line they have booked with to seek a resolution.