It’s a thorny issue – and one that is holding up long-term bookings for many cruise lines. You want to take advantage of a bargain price – but what happens if circumstances change?
In today’s world of travel, something just might.
Some cruise lines are being sympathetic. Others not quite so helpful. The trouble is, they really need your money as cash flow is crucial to survival. So who is doing what? It’s a mixed bag.
One of the most candid and honest comments came from Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean.
“Our previous policy set earlier deadlines for guests to cancel their cruises, and that added unnecessary stress. Trying to guess a month or more in advance where areas of concern about coronavirus might be is challenging for medical experts, much less a family preparing for vacation.
“When circumstances are as fast-changing as they have been recently, it’s good to know you have the option to take a rain check. We think putting more control in our guests’ hands helps them make informed decisions about whether to keep their existing vacation plans or trade out for a more convenient time or itinerary.”
He added the policy would also give consumers more confidence in making new bookings, knowing that they could later adjust their plans without penalty.
Viking was first to announce a bold change to its cancellation policy this week, allowing guests to postpone their cruise up to 24-hours before departure. They get a cruise credit for up to two years – a move designed to provide peace of mind.
Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Azamara and Silversea have announced to guests a joint policy. The “Cruise With Confidence” policy allows guests to cancel up to 48 hours before a sailing. They will receive a full credit for their fare, usable on any future sailing of the guest’s choice in 2020 or 2021. The policy applies to both new and existing cruise bookings.
The policy applies to all cruises with a sailing date on or before July 31, 2020,
Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas is also offering guests to cancel up to 48 prior to cruise departure and receive a Future Cruise Credit equal to 100 per cent of the cruise fare paid, to be redeemed one year from date of issue for travel no later than 2022.
Holland America Line and Seabourn also switched, allowing guests to cancel up to 30 days before sailing and receive a future cruise credit valid for 90 days. This means guests would need to make a re-booking on another cruise within three months, departing in 2021 at the very latest.
Norwegian Cruise Lines, meanwhile, is allowing guests to cancel up to 48 hours from embarkation and receive a 100% future cruise credit to be used for sailings that embark through December 31, 2022.
Crystal Cruises is allowing guests booked on 2020 Ocean, River, Yacht and Expedition Voyages to cancel up to seven days prior to first service and receive a 100% credit for cruise fare monies paid that may be redeemed on any future voyage through the end of 2022.
The line is also offering reduced deposit for new bookings for 2020 voyages and new final payment policy for existing and new bookings.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages is allowing guests to transfer all monies paid on existing bookings to another cruise departing in 2020 or 2021 and waive all administrative fees if they meet certain criteria.
Cunard is offering all guests with existing and new bookings on sailings departing before August 31, 2020 to transfer their booking up to 48 hours prior to departure.
Princess Cruises has faced some criticism for holding passengers to their bookings on the Diamond Princess, recently involved in an outbreak of coronavirus in Japan.
But the line has released an updated cancellation policy allowing cancellations up to 72 hours before sailing without penalty for cruises departing through May 31, 2020.
Hurtigruten is offering free rebooking to any future Hurtigruten cruise for all guests booked on departures between March 12 and June 30, 2020.
Carnival Australia has also released a set of new cancellation policies for guests who have booked before March 11, 2020 on sailings up to September 2020.
Ponant has announced relaxed cancellation policies for any new bookings.
MSC Cruises has made two revisions to its original policy and it now “depends on when and where our guests are sailing”.
Here are more details on what the lines are doing:
Princess Cruises is temporarily making changes to its cancellation policy for cruises and cruisetours departing through May 31, 2020. The cruise line is implementing this revised policy to assist guests making decisions regarding their upcoming cruise holidays during the evolving worldwide COVID-19 situation.
The details vary by departure date.
|Date of Departure*||Policy Update|
|April 3, 2020 or earlier||Cancel up to 72hrs before sailing to receive Future Cruise Credit (FCC) for 100% of cancellation fees|
|April 4 – May 31, 2020||Cancel by March 31, 2020 and receive FCC for 100% of cancellation fees|
|June 1, 2020 – June 30, 2020||Final payment moves to 60 days prior to sailing
|July 1, 2020 – October 31, 2020||Full refund of deposit up until final payment on standard deposit bookings|
* Date of departure is from the start date of your cruise or cruisetour, whichever is earliest.
Guests that choose to keep their booking as currently scheduled for departures between March 9 and May 31 will receive the following Onboard Credit amounts for Australian based ships:
AUD $150 per cabin for 3- and 4-day cruises
AUD $225 per cabin for 5-day cruises
AUD $300 per cabin for 6 day and longer cruises
Guests that choose to keep their booking as currently scheduled for departures between March 9 and May 31 will receive the following Onboard Credit amounts for non-Australian based ships:
USD $100 per cabin for 3- and 4-day cruises
USD $150 per cabin for 5-day cruises
USD $200 per cabin for 6 day and longer cruises
Future Cruise Credits are non-refundable and may be applied to any new or existing Princess cruise booking and departing on or before December 31, 2021. The Future Cruise Credits are non-transferable.
To ensure Princess covers guests who already made final payment, the revised final payment date means no cancellation fees will be assessed until 60-days prior to sailing.
Future Cruise Credits will automatically be applied to each guest’s Captain Circle account after they have cancelled. Future Cruise Credits will not be available instantly and may take up to 10 business days to be processed.
|IF YOU BOOKED ON OR BEFORE:||FOR A CRUISE THAT SAILS IN:||YOU WILL AUTOMATICALLY RECEIVE A BONUS ON-BOARD CREDIT OF:||ALTERNATIVELY, YOU CAN CANCEL BY:||AND WE’LL GIVE YOU A FUTURE CRUISE CREDIT VALID FOR SAILINGS DEPARTING:|
|6 March 2020||March 2020||2 Night Cruises: $AUD75 per cabin
3-4 Night Cruises: $AUD150 per cabin
6+ Night Cruises: $AUD300 per cabin
|3 days prior to sailing||Prior to 31 March 2021|
|April 2020||Prior to 31 March 2020||Within 1 Year of original sailing day|
|May 2020||30 days prior to sailing|
|11 March 2020||Between June & September 2020||2-5 Night Cruises: $AUD75 per cabin
6+ Night Cruises: $AUD150 per cabin
|30 days prior to sailing|
Travellers who make new bookings on sailings departing between 1 June and 31 December 2020, will be able to cancel until just 30 days prior to departure, paying only a customary administrative fee on the cruise fare. Additionally, Silversea will negotiate on guests’ behalf for the same cancellation options on other components of the booking such as air travel, hotels and shore excursions. However, Silversea does not have control over these third-party suppliers, and, therefore, different terms may apply for these specific components.
“Travelling the world with Silversea should never be a source of anxiety,” says Roberto Martinoli, Silversea’s Chief Executive Officer. “For this reason, and to ease the minds of our guests and trade partners, we have temporarily relaxed our new booking and cancellation policies. This period of uncertainty is for sure going to ease eventually, but as the situation evolves, we are pleased to provide our guests with more time to decide whether or not to travel.”
Read Silversea’s temporary amendment to its cancellation policy:
Guests may cancel up to 48 hours prior to cruise departure and will receive a Future Cruise Credit equal to 100% of the cruise fare paid.
- Cancel for any reason up to 48 hours prior to departure and receive a Future Cruise Credit equal to 100% of the cruise fare paid
- Valid for all existing reservations for voyages departing from March 10, 2020 through September 30, 2020
- Valid for all new reservations through April 30th for voyages departing from March 10, 2020 through September 30, 2020
- Future Cruise Credit is valid for redemption for one year from date of issue for travel departing no later than December 31, 2022
Full details here.
Regent Seven Seas
The line has just updated their cancellation policy, shortening the cancellation period from 30 days just 48 hours prior to sailing.
Effective immediately, Regent Reassurance includes all Regent voyages departing from 10 March 2020 through 30 September 2020. 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 booking within one year on any Regent voyage that embarks between now and 31 December 2022.
Regent Reassurance applies to all bookings under final payment made by 30 April 2020, on all Regent voyages departing from 10 March 2020, through 30 September 2020. Bookings under Regent Reassurance will have their commission protected and paid in full.
“At Regent, our extended family of guests is always at the centre of everything we do. With so much information coming from around the world very quickly regarding the global health environment, we understand our guests may feel uneasy about travelling,” said Steve Odell, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
“Regent Reassurance is designed to provide our guests with maximum flexibility and give them the confidence to take a Regent voyage on the most luxurious fleet in the cruise industry,” he added.
Holland America Line
For guests currently booked on upcoming cruises through May 31, 2020, the line has relaxed its cancellation policy.
Cancel by March 31 with a minimum of 72 hours in advance of departure and receive a Future Cruise Credit (FCC) for the amount of the paid fare which can be used for another cruise in 2020 or 2021.
For those who choose to keep their cruise plans on departures through May 31, 2020, an Onboard Spending Credit of US$200 per stateroom/US$100 per person for voyages longer than 7 days and US$100 per stateroom/US$50 per person for voyages less than 6 days will be automatically applied to their shipboard account as a thank you.
For new bookings by April 30, 2020 for itineraries that depart on or before Oct. 15, 2020, can cancel for any reason and receive a Future Cruise Credit in the amount of any cancellation fees applied. The cancellation must be made up to 30 days before departure.
Terms and conditions apply, visit hollandamerica.com/bookwithconfidence.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Have peace of mind when booking with Norwegian Cruise Line. Beginning March 10, 2020, guests who book a voyage through September 30, 2020 may cancel up to 48 hours from embarkation and receive a 100% future cruise credit to be used for sailings that embark through December 31, 2022. This offer also applies to individual and group guests who are currently booked through this timeframe.
Full details here.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages
To provide guests peace of mind during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Cruise & Maritime Voyages have amended their transfer policy to make it easier for guests to enjoy their cruise holiday. CMV will allow guests to transfer all monies paid on existing bookings to another cruise departing in 2020 or 2021 and waive all administrative fees if:
- A guest has travelled through a highly affected area (i.e. China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Macau, Iran, Japan, or Italy) 30 days prior to embarkation, or
- A guest has a pre-existing condition and their doctor has advised against travelling
Transfer of booking
All guests with existing and new bookings on sailings departing before August 31, 2020 may now transfer their booking up to 48 hours prior to departure.
- Transfer their booking to any Cunard voyage currently on sale.
- Transfer their booking an unlimited number of times prior to paying final balance.
- Transfer their bookings free of charge.
Cancellation of booking
All guests with existing and new bookings on sailings departing before August 31, 2020 may now cancel up to 48 hours prior to departure.
- Cancelled bookings will receive a Future Cruise Credit equivalent to the cancellation fees and refunds will be given on any remaining monies paid.
- The Future Cruise Credit can be redeemed against any sailing until end of March 2022 (bookings to be made before December 31, 2021).
- The Future Cruise Credit is non-refundable, but may be used on multiple sailings.
On board spending money for existing bookings
Guests sailing before August 31, 2020 will have additional money to spend on board applied automatically to their booking (bookings made prior to March 11, 2020). The amount of credit is shown below, applicable per cabin*:
|Voyage duration (nights)||1-3||4-7||8-14||15+|
|On board credit
Seabourn’s new ‘’Book with Confidence” policy is valid now through April 30, 2020.
Coverage: All existing bookings and new bookings made now through April 30, 2020 for sailings departing between April 1st and October 15th, 2020.
Policy: Guests may cancel up to 30 days prior to departure and receive a 100% Future Cruise Credit of any monies paid to Seabourn that are currently within the cancellation period.
The Future Cruise Credit is valid for bookings made within 90 days* for any published sailing departing prior to December 31, 2021.
Effective immediately and until further notice, Crystal has established a new cancellation policy* applicable to all Crystal experiences, which previously began at 120 days or earlier. Guests may cancel up to 7 days prior to first service and receive a 100% credit for cruise fare monies paid that may be redeemed on any future voyage through the end of 2022.
First service refers to any pre-cruise product such as hotel or land programs booked prior to the voyage. If no such service was booked, it refers to the departure.
For all new bookings, Crystal has established a new reduced deposit policy for Crystal voyages, which was previously 25% of the cruise fare. New reduced deposit amounts are:
•$100 per person for cruises of up to 13 nights;
•$200 per person for cruises of 14-21 nights;
•$500 per person for cruises of 22 days or longer.
Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Yacht Cruises and Crystal Expedition Cruises
•$500 per person for all voyages.
NEW FINAL PAYMENT POLICY FOR EXISTING AND NEW BOOKINGS FOR 2020 VOYAGES
For all existing and new bookings for all Crystal experiences, final payment will be reduced from 120 days or earlier to 90 days prior to first service.
*Terms and Conditions below:
– Standard cancellation penalties will apply to insurance and Personal Select Air.
– Pre and post packages will mirror the updated cancellation penalties.
– Port charges, taxes, and fees paid will be refunded.
– Credit may be applied to new bookings or existing bookings that have not been final paid.
– Credit may not be used for initial deposit, split over multiple bookings and there is no refund value.
– Credit must be applied by 12/31/2020 to a booking departing by the end of 2022.
– Credit will be posted to the guests’ profile within 30 days.
– New deposit, final payment and Crystal cancellation policies do not apply to charters.
The line previously announced: “MSC Cruises has tweaked its cancellation policy to allow any passenger who is booked on a Mediterranean cruise in March and April 2020 to postpone their cruise or switch to a different one operating in another region and sailing within the next year.”
But this is now an outdated guideline which has since been updated, says Leisa Chell PR & Communications Manager of MSC Cruises.
“MSC Cruises updated cancellation policy will depend on when and where our guests are sailing and should contact their travel agent for the latest information,” says Ms Chell.
For all guests booked on departures between March 12 and June 30, 2020, Hurtigruten will offer free rebooking to any future Hurtigruten cruise – expedition or Norwegian coastal – from July 1, 2020, to July 1, 2021. The offer is also valid for any new Hurtigruten booking made by April 30, 2020.
A changed reservation will be reimbursed as a 100 per cent future cruise voucher and a 10 per cent discount on the guest’s future cruise, including fees. The voucher will also cover flights booked through Hurtigruten.
Guests who have booked their flight through Hurtigruten will need to notify the cruise line at least 48 hours prior to their scheduled departure. Guests who have booked their own air will need to notify the cruise line at least 48 hours prior to their hotel check-in or cruise embarkation, whichever is first.
This voucher is combinable with other Hurtigruten offers, the cruise line said.
For any new booking, in case of cancellation your cruise is fully refundable up to 90 days after confirmation.
Make a new booking with a 10% deposit, final payment is due only 30 days before sailing on any 2020 departures.
Guest will get a full refund in case of cancellation, up to 30 days prior to departure.
For any booking between 29 days prior to sailing and sailing date the cancellation penalty will amount to 100% of the booking value.
Offer valid until further notice.
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