The UK cruise industry has shut down operations as travel restrictions due to coronavirus/COVID-19 are in place around the world, including advice against all non-essential travel from the UK government for 30 days from March 17.
According to a report in The Telegraph, the first ever move to shut down the global cruise industry follows advice from both the UK and US governments that those aged 70 and over, and those with pre-existing health conditions, should avoid cruise holidays.
Andy Harmer, UK and Ireland director of Cruise Lines International Association (Clia), said: ‘As we face the prospect of new restrictions impacting our daily lives, we are all being tested, and I’m proud that our cruising community has been stepping up to the challenge. I know that everyone is working around the clock to adapt to the new landscape we find ourselves in, and are making every effort to keep customers informed with updated information, even as developments are seeming to occur so rapidly. Our customers should feel assured that our industry remains focused on their safety, health and well-being.’
Viking was the first cruise operator to announce on March 11 that it was suspending its river and ocean cruises for a temporary period. Operations are suspended for both Viking River Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises between March 12 and April 30. Viking is offering pre-booked customers within this period the choice of a future cruise voucher valued at 125% of all monies paid to Viking or a refund. Guests will have 24 months to use their future cruise voucher to make a new reservation on any river, ocean or expedition cruise.
Most of the major cruise lines have made similar announcements, with cruise season now delayed until mid to late April. Cunard is suspending new cruises on its ships until April 11. Both Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will return to Southampton and Queen Elizabeth’s itineraries are under review, the report said, adding that guests are being contacted regarding their voyage and options.
Marella Cruises, a British cruise line operated by TUI UK, offering cruise holidays around Europe, the Caribbean, and Asia – has a restart date of March 28, while TUI has postponed the launch of its new river cruises.
Virgin Voyages – Sir Richard Branson’s brand new cruise line – has postponed a showcase tour planned for its first ship, Scarlet Lady and the maiden voyage. The inaugural season will start on July 15 and the maiden voyage will take place on August 7. Customers will receive a 200 per cent future voyage credit, and will also receive up to USD500 in on board credit if they rebook before June 30. It will also be possible to get a 100 per cent refund of the voyage fare for an impacted sailing, plus a 25 per cent future voyage credit. The line plans to launch another three ships after Scarlet Lady, the report said.