As the coronavirus outbreak continues to impact cruise lines, several of the top companies in the industry have extended the suspension of all voyages.
Cunard announced new preventative measures that include canceling all sailing through May 15 instead of the previously published date of April 11. The cruise line continues to monitor government guidelines and travel restrictions at ports of call it serves.
“The impact of COVID-19 is affecting personal routines and businesses as well as placing significant travel restrictions around the world,” Cunard president Simon Palethorpe said in a statement.
“Everyone in the Cunard team is aware of the need to support the management and containment of COVID-19 globally,” Palethorpe continued. “This includes protecting the health and safety of our guests and crew. It is therefore right we extend the pause in operations.”
Carnival Cruise Line revealed it would extend the suspension of all North American operations through May 11. The company said it automated the customer service process and asked guests and travel agents to use online forms as requested in emails being sent.
“This decision also has implications for the thousands of our crew members who remain on our ships, and just like they have always taken care of our guests, we are working diligently to continue to take care of them and get them home where possible,” Carnival said in a statement.
“We remain committed to our return to service and will use this time to continue to build additional processes, protocols and resources to protect the health and safety of our guests, crew and the destinations we serve,” Carnival’s continued.
MSC Cruises also revealed it would halt all departures through May 29 instead of the previously announced date of April 30. The decision was made to support local governments and strengthen public health and safety measures.
“MSC Cruises is working tirelessly with all guests and their travel advisors to address the impact of this necessary decision to their bookings on our ships up to May 29 and it is genuinely sorry for the inconvenience that this will cause them,” an MSC Cruises spokesperson said in a statement. “By announcing this now, the Company intends to provide travel advisors and guests who are booked on affected sailings with as much time as possible to move their booking to a future cruise.”
Seabourn also announced that it will extend the voluntarily pause of global operations for its five cruise ships for an additional 30 days. The 30-day extension includes sailings scheduled to depart through May 14, 2020.
Guests impacted on Seabourn voyages will receive a 125% refund of the fare paid in the form of a future cruise credit, which can be applied toward any future cruise through December 31, 2021. For guests who do not opt to choose the 125% future cruise credit, a 100% refund of the monies paid to Seabourn will be reimbursed to the original form of payment.
As for Royal Caribbean, the cruise line previously announced it had extended the suspension of operations by another 30 days, through May 12. In addition, officials revealed that cruises to Canadian ports are off until at least July 1.
RCCL brands include Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises.
Costa Cruises also expanded its voluntary suspension of cruises through at least April 30, with the company taking steps to inform travel agents and guests affected by the changes. Guests booked through the North American office will receive a future cruise credit.
In addition, Regent Seven Seas Cruises modified its cancellation policy to allow customers who have paid in full to cancel up to 48 hours before their departure dates.
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European Waterways Barge Cruises Are Ideal for Family Vacations
European Waterways offers the perfect solution to socially distant family travel in Europe.
As the coronavirus pandemic begins to wane and countries begin to reopen their borders to international travelers, families are expected to look to travel to reconnect with one another, and European Waterways is ready for the surge, offering the ideal opportunity for families to explore on private, chartered river barges.
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Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways, says that he is already observing increasing interest.
This isn’t surprising seeing as how these vessels offer ideal accommodations for families, with room for anywhere between six and 20 passengers. Guests can cruise Europe’s canals and smaller waterways as well as the less-populated countryside.
“Cruising with European Waterways has always been about taking ‘the path less traveled,’ so much of our outdoor activities already take our guests away from crowded tourist attractions to the more exclusive, less populated settings,” said Banks. “Until travel returns to normal, we are further committed to providing a safe and healthy onboard environment for our guests, with pre-cruise checks for all on-board and the implementation of more stringent cleaning procedures, among other policies.”
Social distancing will likely be the norm for a while in Europe and around the world, and these barges offer the chance to enjoy scenery while still remaining safe.
For the most part, meals are served on board by the master chef and cruises feature exclusive private tours of castles, aristocratic estates and vineyards, plus other excursions, tailored to avoid the crowds.
L’Art de Vivre is the ideal barge for a family vacation. The eight-passenger vessel once carried supplies during World War One. Now, the boat has been completely modernized and cruises the Canal du Nivernais in Burgundy, France.
Family-friendly excursions include a visit to the Caves of Arcy-sur-Cure, which features some of the oldest cave paintings in the world, a medieval castle under construction using traditional methods at the Chateau Guedelon; the age of the dinosaurs in Cardo Land; and the fun and wildly eclectic artwork on display at the Fabuloserie Art and Sculpture Museum.
Family charters can also incorporate activities such as tennis, ice-skating and mini-golf as well as kayaking, quad biking and horseback riding.
European Waterways’ Family Charters are available throughout France, the U.K., Ireland, Scotland and Italy.
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