Cunard extends suspension of voyages as Covid-19 crisis continues

Luxury cruise line Cunard has said that it will be extending the suspension of voyages as a result of the continued impact of Covid-19.

Cunard is the operator of luxury cruise ships Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, and the only line to offer regularly scheduled transatlantic service between New York and London. For its ships Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, Cunard is cancelling all sailings that were due to depart up to and including July 31, 2020. For Queen Elizabeth, the cruise line has cancelled the entire Alaska season and all departures up to and including September 8, 2020.

‘These are extraordinary times and this global outbreak continues to challenge Cunard and the travel industry as a whole,’ said Simon Palethorpe, President, Cunard. ‘We would love nothing more than to bring our fleet back in to service, and give our guests the holidays they deserve and long for, but with the lockdowns and travel restrictions in place around the world, this is simply not possible at this time.’

‘We have been sailing for 180 years and we look forward to many more,’ he added. ‘We will get through these tough times together and look forward to welcoming our guests back on board again when the time is right.’

As earlier, guests who are booked on cancelled voyages during this period will automatically be given a 125 per cent Future Cruise Credit or have an option of a full refund. This may be used on any sailing before the end of March 2022, and the booking must be made by December 31, 2021. Guests may now also use their Future Cruise Credit for a second cabin to bring friends or family or to upgrade an existing booking. Full details on voyage cancellations, the changes to operations and the current cancellation policies including options available to guests due to travel on cancelled voyages, can be found at www.cunard.com.

Cunard will communicate with all guests, and their travel advisors, who are booked on affected voyages. Travel advisor commission on all bookings fully paid by April 22, 2020 will be protected.

Cunard will continue to monitor government guidelines and travel restrictions around the world, which could mean further changes to the timing of when each of the ships returns to service, it said.

Europe’s floods cause travel cancellations

Extensive flooding across large areas of Central Europe is causing travel chaos and the cancellation of holiday bookings.

Following days of heavy rain, many of the rivers in Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland and Hungary are dangerously high or have already broken their banks. River cruise companies have been the hardest hit, with US-based Viking River Cruises already having cancelled its June 9 sailings from Budapest to Nuremberg, and Passau to Budapest. Further cancellations and alterations to schedules are expected between June 5 and June 16.

In a statement, Viking commented, ‘In many instances, due to having the largest fleet in river cruising combined with our in-house nautical and operations team in Switzerland, we are able to continue operating our itineraries through careful planning and switching of sister ships. In every decision we make, the safety of our guests and crew remains our top priority.’

A number of other river cruise operators are also announcing cancellations, including Avalon Waterways, with three departures cancelled between now and June 14.

Flooding in Slovakia, particularly in its capital city, Bratislava, has prompted the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office to issue a warning for travellers to the country, saying, ‘Some people may also experience disruption to travel plans as a result. Please check with your local operator for the latest information.’

The Czech Republic has also announced a nationwide state of emergency, with 3,000 people having to leave their homes, seven people having died, and the floodwaters yet to peak. Southern Germany has been badly impacted by the flooding, with the army called in to help. According to the BBC, water levels in the Bavarian town, Passau, are impassable and higher than at any time since the 16th century.

 

Carnival cancels cruises to address propulsion problems

Carnival Cruise Lines, a British-American owned cruise line with its headquarters in Florida, USA, has cancelled more cruises while it addresses problems with its vessel’s propulsion systems.

The 12 cancelled sailings that have just been announced include 10 that were scheduled for the Carnival Triumph, the ship that suffered an engine room fire that left it stranded in the Gulf of Mexico last month, and 2 that were scheduled to be the debut voyages of the Carnival Sunshine, the former Carnival Destiny that is being renamed following a USD155 million refit. The cancellation of voyages to Barcelona and Venice aboard the refurbished ship means that it will now not commence its service until May 5 this year.

The cancellation package on offer to disappointed Carnival Sunshine passengers includes a full refund, the reimbursement of any travel costs that are not refundable and a 25 percent discount on a future cruise.

The 10 latest cancellations to affect Carnival Triumph take its total of cancelled voyages to 22, with 12 having already been announced. A cancellation package similar to that offered to Carnival Sunshine’s passengers is also available to those that were to travel on the sister vessel.

Gerry Cahill, the company’s president and chief executive said, ‘The changes we are implementing are focused primarily on improvements to better support continued power and hotel services should unexpected issues arise.

‘Going forward, the review will focus on the balance of our fleet. While this process will take time, it is our highest priority and has the full support and resources of Carnival Cruise Lines and Carnival Corporation.’

A Carnival statement said, ‘The cruise line is making significant investments to enhance the level of operating redundancies and the scope of hotel services that can run on emergency power, and further improve each ship’s fire prevention, detection and suppression systems.

‘Given the necessary lead time to source needed materials and implement the enhancements, Carnival will extend the current out-of-service period for these two ships.’

 

UK Ground Transport and Flights Disrupted By Bad Weather

Flights to and from the UK have been hit by severe bad weather. Yesterday, London Heathrow airport saw cancellations of one in ten flights due to snowfall and bad weather conditions.

In a statement Heathrow has reported that, ‘The airport is fully operational although there may be some disruption to flights due to weather conditions in the United Kingdom and across Europe. Please allow extra time for your journey to the airport and check the status of your flight with your airline before travelling.’

Flights from all other UK airports, including Bristol, Aberdeen, Luton, Birmingham, Southampton, Belfast, and Stansted, have also been disrupted, and passengers have been advised to check their flight status before leaving for the airport.

Meanwhile, train services have seen most disruption on those routes served by ScotRail, Grand Central, First Hull Trains, First Great Western, and East Coast rail operators. All other train services in the UK are currently running on time.

More snow is expected in Southern England. The Highways Agency of the Department for Transport (DfT) has reported, ‘Road users in South West England are being advised to check the latest weather forecast and road conditions before they travel today (Tuesday 22 January and overnight into the morning of Wednesday 23 January), due to the forecast of further snow. As a result of the snow the Highways Agency has issued an Amber Alert and customers are advised to take extra care when travelling due to the increased risk of adverse driving conditions.

The Highways Agency, which is responsible for motorways and other major roads in England, and is working closely with the Met Office to monitor weather conditions and maintain safe roads and reliable journeys.

Drivers are also advised to plan their journey before they set out, to check the forecast and road conditions, to leave extra time if travel conditions are poor and to consider delaying their journey if the weather becomes severe.

Up-to-date information on road conditions across England’s motorways and trunk roads is available on the Highways Agency website at www.highways.gov.uk/traffic or by calling 0300 123 5000.’