easyJet holidays to provide further customer protection on holidays

As holidaymakers demand increased security and flexibility, easyJet holidays has launched its new Protection Promise, providing protection in the event of travel disruptions amid Covid-19 risks.

According to new research, more than 33 million Brits have had their holiday plans disrupted this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, while more than half (53%) of Brits are only willing to book a holiday abroad if they feel confident their money is protected. However, despite ongoing travel restrictions, a report from easyJet holidays into consumer travel trends has revealed that almost a quarter (24%) of Brits plan to still go on holiday abroad in the next three months, rising to 37% in the start of next year. Almost two in five (38%) are even willing to quarantine for two weeks on their return in order to get away, with just over one in five (21%) saying that not having a holiday or break away has affected their mood.

In response these consumer needs, easyJet holidays is launching its new Protection Promise, a guarantee of flexibility and protection for customers. The new, long-term customer policy is in addition to the short-term commitments the company has in place to support customers’ bookings impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This has included a promise to cancel any holidays where there is a known quarantine or self-isolation requirement in the destination and any customer refunds have been processed in an average of 12 days.

Matt Callaghan, Customer Director at easyJet holidays, said, ‘Consumer confidence in booking a holiday abroad has taken a huge hit this year and travellers have different priorities so at easyJet holidays we know, given the restrictions continue to change, we must adapt to this new reality. That’s why we’re launching our new Protection Promise, setting a benchmark for customer flexibility in the industry and encouraging travellers to book their holidays with the reassurance that if things change they are protected. And this isn’t a short-term move, this is a fundamental change to what customers can expect whenever they book with easyJet holidays.’

The report from easyJet holidays also revealed that COVID-19 has made Brits reconsider their priorities, four in ten (40%) proactively look for destinations that have a low rate of infection, while three in ten (31%) said they now prefer self-catering or self-contained holidays.

easyJet holidays’ Protection Promise offers customers: a Refund Guarantee in the event of a change of travel plans, offering a full refund, including their deposit in credit, up to 28 days before departure and free of fees; a chance to pay for their holiday in instalments with no fees and only pay in full 28 days before they travel, Best Price Guarantee; Freedom to Change until 28 days before departure and ensure a return of deposit, if plans change, up to 28 days from departure.

P&O Cruises extends delay in sailing until October 15, 2020

P&O Cruises has announced an extension to a delay in its sailing operations until October 15, 2020 as it works with all relevant public health agencies to approve health and safety protocols.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: ‘We are working with government and industry bodies at the highest possible level, such as Public Health England (PHE) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to review every aspect of a holiday with us and establish a framework of policies and procedures. Our aspiration is to be adopting best practice in managing COVID-19 within the travel industry.

‘Unfortunately, as the world continues to adapt to this global crisis, we have made the decision, difficult as it is, to extend our pause in operations for all sailings up to and including October 15, 2020. We are so sorry for the disappointment this will cause to so many of our guests.’

All guests who were booked on these cancelled sailings will receive an enhanced Future Cruise Credit (FCC), which will include an additional 25% on top of the amount paid for the holiday. FCCs may also be used to upgrade or for a second cabin for any existing booking and also may be gifted or transferred to someone else. This option will also be available until the end of December 2021.

Expanding on the likely protocols Ludlow said: ‘We have for years had in place many of the protocols now considered advisable for other social gathering venues, such as hand-sanitizing stations and rigorous cleaning and disinfecting procedures. We also have for years gone beyond those protocols by having guests complete a health declaration form and having a comprehensive medical facility on board each ship providing 24/7 medical care and treatment. During the recent crisis, we added robust health screening upon embarkation, starting with thermal scanning of guests and crew.

‘Along with the rest of the world, we will adapt. We will work closely with medical experts and global authorities to help us determine the best way to move forward while honouring our highest responsibility – the health, safety, and wellbeing of our guests, crew and communities we visit, along with compliance and environmental protection.

‘When the time is right, we will be ready to resume our tradition of providing amazing holiday experiences for our guests.’

P&O Cruises is also introducing a 5% deposit for new bookings made between 27 May and 29 June 2020. The offer is available on applicable Early Saver and Select Price holidays of 19 nights or fewer from January 2021.

P&O Cruises visits over 200 destinations worldwide and offers itineraries generally ranging from two to 17 days and an annual world cruise. P&O Cruises sails to Australia & New Zealand, Baltic, the British Isles, Canada, Spain, Portugal & the Canary Islands, the Caribbean, Central America, Dubai & the Arabian Gulf, the Far East & Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, South America, the South Pacific, the United States and Western Europe.

UK cruise industry takes a break amid coronavirus concerns

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.