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TORONTO — Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Windstar Cruises have all announced new policy updates to offer passengers peace of mind in the wake of coronavirus.
These updates come on the heels of a string of other policy changes from cruise lines, airlines and travel companies, including Silversea, Princess Cruises and Riviera River Cruises.
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE
The company’s new Peace of Mind policy offers guests who book voyages through Sept. 30, 2020 the chance to cancel up to 48 hours prior to the sail date, and receive a 100% future cruise credit for use on any sailings through Dec. 31, 2022.
This new offer applies to all new guests as well as those already booked on voyages beginning March 10, 2020.
“We understand travellers are thinking carefully about their next vacation, and we are here to reassure them that now is the right time to start planning,” said Harry Sommer, president and chief executive offer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “This summer, I’m looking forward to cruising to Europe with my family and discovering the incredible destinations we will visit together. I encourage our guests to do the same and to feel confident in spending their valuable time off with us.”
With the ‘Cruise With Confidence’ policy passengers of Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Brands Cruises, Azamara and Silversea can cancel up to 48 hours before their cruise. Passengers will receive credit corresponding to the full amount of the canceled cruise, usable on any other route of their choice in 2020 or 2021. The policy applies to all cruise bookings already made or to come. “Our previous policy set longer deadlines for the cancellation of a cruise, which could be a source of unnecessary stress,” said Richard Fain, President and CEO of the US group. “Trying to guess a month or more in advance what will be the concerns about the coronavirus or any other topic can be difficult for experts, let alone a family preparing to go on vacation.”
The new policy also gives consumers more confidence to make new reservations, knowing they can adjust their plans without penalty. The policy applies to all cruises before July 31, 2020.
HOLLAND AMERICA LINE
For guests currently booked on upcoming cruises, Holland America Line is temporarily changing its cancellation policy and allowing guests to cancel their cruise or Alaska Land+Sea Journey departing through May 31, 2020.
Any cancellation will receive a Future Cruise Credit (FCC) for the amount of the paid fare, which can be used for another cruise in 2020 or 2021. The FCC must be booked by Dec. 31, 2020 and the cancellation must be made with a minimum of 72 hours in advance of departure date, but no later than March 31, 2020. However, guests booked between now and March 9, 2020 may also cancel under this new policy despite being within 72 hours.
For those who choose to keep their cruise plans on departures through May 31, 2020, an Onboard Spending Credit of $200 per stateroom / $100 per person for voyages longer than seven days and US$100 per stateroom / US$50 per person for voyages less than six days will be automatically applied to their shipboard account.
Noting how there are people with specific individual health situations that impact their ability to safely travel during this time, Holland America is also offering a FCC if they provide supporting documents from their health care provider. This ‘Compassion Policy’ offer is available for guests booked on any sailing, regardless of departure date.
Moreover, Holland America is offering a new ‘Book with Confidence’ program that allows for cruise and Land+Sea Journey cancellation. Under this program, guests who make a new booking by April 30, 2020, for itineraries that depart on or before Oct. 15, 2020, can cancel for any reason and receive a FCC in the amount of any cancellation fees applied. The cancellation must be made up to 30 days before departure.
The line’s ‘Cancellation Protection Plan’ can also be purchased for new cruise or Alaska Land+Sea Journey bookings, or existing bookings, as long as it is purchased before the date cancellation fees begin to accrue. The program, offering a Standard or Platinum plan, allows guests to cancel up to 24 hours before cruise departure with Standard, and right up to departure under Platinum, and receive refunds from 80-90% of eligible amounts paid. The cost varies by cruise fare and is non-refundable.
Windstar has updated its new Travel Assurance Policy, which was first announced last week. At that time, the policy allowed clients who book a Windstar cruise departing on or after June 1, 2020 to cancel their cruise up to 15 days before their departure date, and to receive a future cruise credit in the amount of their cancellation fees.
With the new update, the policy now applies to all sailings – new and existing – departing now through Dec. 31, 2021. The updated policy took effect March 4.
Travellers who cancel a cruise booking up to 15 days prior to departure will receive a 100% FCC to be used on another Windstar departure within one year of the issue date of the credit. The offer is good for the cruise fare only.
Agents will continue to earn commission on cancelled bookings in accordance with Windstar’s existing commission policy as follows:
• 121 days or more prior to sail: No commission will be paid.
• 120-30 days prior to sail: Commission is protected at a rate of 10% of the cancellation fee. As an example if the cancellation fee is $1,500, the commission payment would be $150.
• 29-0 days prior to sail: Commission is protected 100%.