(PRESS RELEASED)_MIAMI, March 31, 2020 – As the world puts a collective pause on travel, Crystal is sharing its renowned Crystal Experience with an engaging new virtual program – Crystal@Home: A Virtual Cruise Experience – created to satisfy the wanderlust of its guests while they remain at home. Utilizing varied digital and social media platforms, travelers are invited to stay connected and interact with Crystal and each other via a weekly series of live streaming events, conversations on Crystal’s social media channels, compelling stories on the Crystal Insider blog, a re-release of Crystal Storytellers, Crystal’s podcast guest lecture series, and more.
“We often say that our guests are family, and we miss our Crystal Family and we know that they miss exploring the world. Just as our guests feel at home aboard our ships, we want them to be able to enjoy their favorite elements of a Crystal vacation from their own homes,” said Carmen Roig, Crystal’s senior vice president of marketing and sales. “Our guests’ interests are varied and broad, and the Crystal@Home program speaks to that individuality. It also unites us over a common love of travel and the Crystal Experience during this challenging time.”
Crystal@Home showcases a weekly virtual voyage featuring the many different aspects of the Crystal Experience. Below is an example of a week’s programming. Details can be found each week at www.crystalcruises.com/crystalathome. Content and featured guests are subject to change. The flexible programming schedule is currently slated to include:
Destination of the Week: highlights select destinations visited by Crystal ships, with immersive imagery and port details to enlighten travelers and take them on a digital journey.
Sunday Cooking with Chef Jon Ashton via Facebook Live from the Crystal Cruises’ Facebook page: a weekly cooking series with longtime Crystal guest chef, who will host demos for featured dishes inspired by guest favorites aboard Crystal ships. The dishes focus on easy methods and ingredients found in most pantries and viewers can find the weekly recipe on the Crystal Insider blog and/or www.crystalcruises.com/crystalathome on the preceding Tuesday to allow time to gather ingredients. The first episode goes live on April 5 at 3 p.m. ET.
Storyteller Monday, featuring the Crystal Storytellers podcast: the first official podcast by a cruise line, which Crystal launched in 2019. The first season is available to download and listen to via all major podcast platforms and features interviews with leading world experts, celebrities, authors and other prestigious individuals who have lectured and sailed aboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.
Wellness Wednesday: with fitness and wellbeing tips and home workouts from Crystal’s certified fitness instructors posted on Crystal Cruises’ Facebook page that mirror those offered with the trainers and instructors in Crystal’s Fitness Centers.
Thirsty Thursday cocktail recipes, Crystal Insider blog: straight from the stylish lounges and bars aboard Crystal ships to the Crystal Insider blog, featuring recipes and tips from Crystal bartenders to inspire homebound happy hours.
Friday Nights at the Galaxy: posted on Crystal Cruises’ Facebook page at 6 p.m. EST featuring entertainment by Crystal’s onboard favorites.
Sail Away Saturday: inviting Crystal guests to share images and short videos from their Crystal voyages, utilizing the hashtag #CrystalFamily.
Crystal@Home programming will feature a revolving roster of the culinary, entertainment, wellness, destination and enrichment features above. Crystal@Home debuts with Sunday Cooking with Chef Jon Ashton this Sunday, April 5, 2020 at 3pm EST via Facebook Live on the Crystal Cruises’ Facebook page. One of Crystal’s long-time culinary partners, Chef Ashton will lead guests in making his chocolaty Springtime Mini Egg Cookie recipe, a timely treat.
With more than 30 years cruising to the far reaches of the world, Crystal has a long tradition of implementing and maintaining the highest health and safety policies at sea. Please visit this link to learn more about Crystal’s Health Protocols.
Royal Extends Cancellation Policy
(PRESS RELEASE)_MIAMI, March 30, 2020 – To address expanding global travel restrictions and provide peace of mind in guest travel planning, Royal Caribbean Group is extending its “Cruise with Confidence” cancellation policy through Sept. 1, 2020. The updated policy enhances planning flexibility by allowing cancellations up to 48 hours prior to sailing for any reason. Guests will receive a full credit for their fare, usable on any future sailing of choice in 2020 or 2021.
“Guests are reacting positively to our ‘Cruise with Confidence’ policy,” says company chairman and CEO Richard Fain, “because it enables them to make informed decisions and to better manage complicated travel plans during this unprecedented time of uncertainty.”
The extension applies to both new and existing cruise bookings. In addition to easing concerns of booked guests, Fain says the policy enhances consumer confidence to schedule new bookings, knowing last-minute travel adjustments will incur no penalty.
“We want our guests to feel they can safely keep their existing cruise bookings or schedule new sailings,” says Fain, “because this policy gives them more freedom and flexibility.”
The policy applies to all cruises with sailing dates on or before Sept. 1, 2020, and applies to the company’s global brands Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara. For individual brand policy details and for information on the Silversea policy, please visit the respective brand websites: Azamara: www.azamara.com/cruise-with-confidence, Celebrity: www.celebritycruises.com/cruise-with-confidence, Royal Caribbean: www.loyaltoyoualways.com/service/cruisewithconfiden
CruiseCompete's Cruise Podcast
If you're looking for a great resource for learning about cruises and getting the most for your cruise dollar, visit CruiseCompete's Cruise Podcast, hosted by CruiseCompete CEO Bob Levinstein. There Bob interviews cruise travel experts about their cruise experiences, and you'll also learn about different cruise lines, cruise ship, ports and itineraries as well as get "insider advice from about how to have the smoothest, safest and most memorable cruise vacation for you and your family. "
Here is a sample of what you'll find there -- "A Luxury Cruise Experience Aboard the Sea Dream II."
(PRESS RELEASE)_Seattle, Wash., March 30, 2020 — Due to the continued port closures and travel restrictions surrounding global health concerns, Holland America Line has made the decision to extend its pause of global cruise operations for an additional 30 days, cancelling sailings scheduled to depart through May 14, 2020.
Guests currently booked on cruises from April 14 through May 14 and their travel advisors will receive notification from Holland America Line in the coming days regarding options for selecting either a Future Cruise Credit for 125% of their booking value plus an additional $250 shipboard credit or a full refund.
“As the world addresses global health concerns, travel has come to a temporary standstill as communities take necessary precautions to protect themselves,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “All of us at Holland America Line are wishing everyone the best during this unprecedented time.”
All bookings will automatically be cancelled through May 14. Guests do not need to call to cancel, however, they may visit hollandamerica.com to indicate their preference for a 125% Future Cruise Credit with the bonus $250 shipboard credit or 100% refund. Holland America Line will reimburse cancellation fees for air and other arrangements for travel to and from the cancelled cruise. (This does not apply to chartered sailings.)
Holland America Line kindly requests that all those booked on cruises from April 14 through May 14 do not call reservations for assistance as hold times are expected to be very long, and their booking will automatically be cancelled over the coming week.
Recognizing the vital role travel advisors play in the success of the cruise industry, Holland America Line will protect travel advisor commissions on bookings for cancelled cruises that were paid in full and for the total amount of the Future Cruise Credits when guests rebook.
For more information, contact a travel advisor, call 1-877-SAIL-HAL (1-877-724-5425) or visit hollandamerica.com.
Victory Cruises Suspending Operations
(PRESS RELEASE)_NEW ALBANY, Ind., March 25, 2020 – Victory Cruise Lines (VCL), operated by American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC), a Hornblower® Company, announced that it will temporarily suspend operations across all ships for its upcoming 2020 season and will resume service on May 17, 2020. The decision was made following wide-spread governmental restrictions across ports, cities and public institutions.
VCL thanks its guests, travel agent partners, vendors and team members for their patience and understanding during this rapidly evolving situation. The decision to suspend service was a difficult choice but necessary in response to federal and state mandates.
“Victory Cruise Lines, a leader in small-ship cruising, has been closely monitoring the developing global story of the coronavirus,” shares John Waggoner, founder and CEO of American Queen Steamboat Company. “Our top priority continues to remain the health and safety of our guests, team members and crew. By pausing our operations and creating a more flexible re-booking policy, it is our hope that VCL will play its part in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 while still balancing the needs of our guests.”
For guests that are booked to depart between April 24 – May 16, 2020, no action is necessary at this time. The VCL customer service team will reach out directly to those guests in the coming days to answer any questions and advise on their available options. For booked guests with canceled cruises, a future cruise credit for 125% of the cruise fare will be provided.
The itineraries affected by the temporary suspension include:
May 4-14 from Halifax to Buffalo
April 24-May 7 from Portland to Niagara Falls/Port Colborne
May 6-14 from Niagara Falls to Chicago
May 13-21 from Chicago to Niagara Falls/Port Colborne
For more information on Victory Cruise Lines and its current policies, please visit: https://www.victorycruiselines.com/alerts/
(PRESS RELEASE)_NEW ALBANY, Ind., March 25, 2020 – American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC), A Hornblower® Company, announced that it will extend its temporarily suspended operations across all boats through May 16, 2020. The decision to extend the suspension reflects the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the continued wide-spread governmental restrictions across ports, cities and public institutions.
AQSC thanks its guests, travel agent partners, vendors and team members for their patience and understanding during this rapidly developing situation. The company will continue to work closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), among others to prepare for sailings to resume when it is appropriate and safe to do so.
“During this unprecedented time, we are vigilantly monitoring the situation to put policies and procedures in place with the guidance from health agencies,” shares John Waggoner, founder and CEO of American Queen Steamboat Company. “Our desire to deliver extraordinary experiences to guests remains the same and we encourage you to stay positive and know that we will emerge as a stronger, more determined and more successful company.”
For the 20 sailings that this has impacted between April 11 and May 16, 2020, AQSC is contacting all guests and travel agents regarding their upcoming cruises and available options. For guests that are booked during this time, the company will be providing a future cruise credit for 125% of the cruise fare for those guests impacted from this action.
To view a message from John Waggoner and learn more about the flexible change policy, please visit https://www.americanqueensteamboatcompany.com/contact-us/alerts/.
(PRESS RELEASE)_U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS (March 23, 2020) - Beginning Wednesday, March 25, 2020, the U.S. Virgin Islands will close its doors to all visitors for 30 days, joining other destinations in global efforts to help stop the spread of Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
With 17 positive cases and more expected from pending tests, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. said safeguarding the health of residents and visitors remains the highest priority.
Governor Bryan stated that although the decisions to close the Territory's ports fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government, the Administration's move to prohibit visitor arrivals will help minimize the potential impact of the novel coronavirus on vulnerable members of the Virgin Islands community.
Restrictions are now in place that prevent hotels, guest houses, bed and breakfasts, home-sharing properties and charter vessels from accepting new guests. Guests who have already checked in to lodging facilities are advised to return home, but can remain in the Territory if they choose. Emergency management personnel, overnighting flight crews and officials responding to the COVID-19 crisis are exempt from the restriction.
Governor Bryan is ordering non-essential businesses to close and residents to stay at home as the Administration ramps up its response to COVID-19 in the Territory. All bars across the Territory are to be closed, and in-house dining is not allowed at restaurants; take-out services are permissible.
"If we all do our part and adhere to these containment strategies, the U.S. Virgin Islands will weather this storm, as we have many times before," Governor Bryan said. He added: "We all need to strap in, hunker down and row in the same direction toward a safe harbor from this pandemic and global crisis."
Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte informed that visitors who have made plans to visit the Territory between March 25 and April 25, 2020 are advised to contact their respective travel partners regarding relevant cancellation policies. "We are working closely with the USVI Hotel and Tourism Association to encourage travelers to postpone - not cancel - their visit," he said, while assuring that a warm welcome will await future travelers to the Territory once the crisis subsides.
Commissioner Boschulte added that while mitigation strategies were of paramount importance at this time, discussions were ongoing with air and cruise partners as the Territory prepares for its post-pandemic recovery.
Marine vessels 300 tons and over are required to clear with the United States Coast Guard and produce a manifest of every passenger. If a health issue is identified during the screening process, the Department of Health will be notified and called for consultation. Vessels under 300 tons must clear with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Vessels that are registered with marinas must clear by appointment.
The Coast Guard recommends that all maritime vessels visit https://homeport.uscg.mil/port-directory/san-juan for procedures and restrictions.
To request clearance, call (340) 774-6755.
For tourism-related updates and information, visit www.usviupdate.com.
'Salus' Virus Detection System Announced
(PRESS RELEASE)_FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, March 17, 2020 - OZ, a global innovation, and disruptive digital technologies consulting company announces Salus, a new mobile solution that will help cruise lines and state and local Florida health authorities tackle novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Each day, over 50,000 guests and crew descend to South Florida from all over the US and the new Salus solution will help prevent guests and crew suspected of having COVID-19 from boarding ships, help detect guests and crew that may have come down with COVID-19 while onboard the ship, and then help facilitate and track containment of these guests and crew, along with cataloging onboard testing and treatment.
As cruise lines implement digital technology such as infrared cameras, thermometers, and smartwatches to detect COVID-19 symptoms in guests and crews, Salus collects and integrates this data with the ship’s passenger manifest system (PMS), IoT sensors, ship containment facilities, and diagnostics, all via a mobile crew application. This provides a full picture of guest and crew health throughout the cruise journey. If symptoms of COVID-19 are detected onboard via digital thermometers readings and infrared cameras, Salus will analyze prior person interactions, co-ordinate patient quarantine, treatment, and testing, and capture patient hour-by-hour containment, diagnostic and treatment details. The Salus app will then provide full patient case details to the South Florida local health authorities of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties when docking back at port. Salus also helps prevent anyone suspected of being ill from boarding the ship in the first place, through integration with digital thermometers and infrared cameras that analyze guest and crew temperatures and stop anyone boarding with a body temperature above 100.4 oF Those cases are then immediately transmitted to the local health authority so people showing symptoms are quickly contained and receive treatment.
Ric Cavieres, President of OZ, comments, “OZ already develops multiple cruise line mobile applications, that integrate guest, crew and ship data and IoT devices, for several South Florida-based cruise line clients. This gives us a deep understanding of the cruise line processes, guests, employees, and platforms.” Cavieres adds, “OZ also has vast experience working with the state and local South Florida health authorities, which means we understand their protocols, processes, and platforms. This combined experience means that we are ideally positioned to work with both the cruise lines and local health authorities to help combat the effects of the coronavirus on the Florida travel industry. Additionally, our proximity to the ports allows us to quickly mobilize Salus.”
Cavieres concludes “We are deeply invested in our local community, and the Salus solution is our small part to try and help protect the people and businesses located here.”
OZ is currently in discussions with South Florida based cruise lines to adopt and implement Salus.
To learn more about OZ’s new Salus mobile platform, please reach out to Ric Cavieres, at ric.cavieres@FollowOZ.com or visit FollowOZ.com. To learn more about COVID-19 precautions in South Florida, please visit http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/COVID-19/index.html
OZ is a leading global consulting company whose digital consulting services and solutions help make their clients leaders in innovation and CX. Using Design Thinking, Analytics and AI, IoT, Automation, Cloud and their Innovation Labs; OZ drives digital innovation across the travel and hospitality, health sciences, retail, high tech, and financial services industries. To learn more, visit FollowOZ.com
Remembering Our First Cruise
Pam and I took our first cruise almost 20 years ago, and one was all it took. We were hooked.
Like many people, we never thought cruising was for us. While we both had a lifelong love of travel, it always involved exploring the world by train, plane and automobile. A cruise seemed too confining, too regimented. It was travel for people who like their vacations programmed. But on a lark, we decided to give it a try.
We chose a seven-day, fall foliage cruise on Carnival out of New York. We were living in Dallas at the time, but loved any excuse to visit the Big Apple, where our son lived. It included stops in Canada, to places we hadn't visited. Who knows, it could be fun.
Then, just a few weeks prior to our departure, 9-11 happened and the world was forever changed.
As you might expect, we thought the cruise would be canceled in light of what was going on. Instead, Carnival informed us the cruise would occur, but the departure port had been changed to Boston. Wait a minute -- that wasn't the cruise we booked.
After several weeks of calls and wrangling, Carnival agreed to credit us for a future cruise, which turned out to be a four-day excursion to Mexico sailing from Galveston. It was a total blast.
We discovered that a cruise vacation offers many advantages, including:
Yes, there were programmed activities available around the clock, but you get to decide what kind of vacation you want -- playing trivia or relaxing on a lounger with a drink and a good book. Plus the added bonus of meeting new people and making new friendships.
Dollar for dollar, we thought it was one of the best travel bargains to be found, and still do, some 50 cruises later. The funny thing is, despite cruising all over the world, there's still one cruise we've never taken -- a fall foliage cruise. Go figure. --Gerry Barker
Virgin Postpones Inaugural Season
Today, Virgin Voyages released these statements:
Virgin Voyages Brand Statement:
The current global health crisis is understandably making many people rethink upcoming travel plans. While there have been no health concerns on our ship Scarlet Lady, the Virgin Voyages team has engaged future sailors and travel partners as we all navigate this challenging moment together.
Based on feedback from these conversations, we made the proactive decision to postpone the Showcase Tour inaugural season of Scarlet Lady until July 15, 2020, with our Maiden Voyage taking place on August 7, 2020.
Virgin Voyages is committed to making this change to your plans as convenient and fair as possible, and are offering a range of options from a full refund and a voyage credit to bonus offerings for future sailings.
Additional information below:
200% in Future Voyage Credit which can be applied to another sailing, rather than a refund. This is double the value of a Sailor’s existing booking.
Sailors can also receive up to $500 in onboard credit,* if you re-book before June 30, 2020.
If a Sailor prefers to get a 100% refund** on a voyage fare for an impacted sailing, Virgin Voyages will issue one plus offer a 25% Future Voyage Credit on the value paid to use for a future booking.
While timing isn’t right to launch our first ship right now, we look forward to welcoming everyone on Scarlet Lady later this year.
Important Message from Richard Branson and Tom McAlpin on Postponing Scarlet Lady Inaugural Sailing Season:
When we dreamed up Virgin Voyages, we did so with an ambition to create an entirely new way to sail the seven seas. Over the past seven years, our wonderful crew have worked passionately to create a ship and sailor experience for you that is truly spectacular. We know many of you are very excited to sail on Scarlet Lady, and we can tell you after spending time on board, she has captured all of our hearts.
But at this time, much of our attention is focused, rightly, on the current global health crisis. We understand that this is affecting us all in different ways and making many people rethink upcoming cruise plans. We have spent time talking to our team, future Sailors and travel partners as we navigate this challenging moment.
As a brand, Virgin has always championed our customers and, most importantly, listened to them. With those principles in mind and based on your feedback, our team has made the very difficult decision to postpone the Showcase Tour launch and inaugural sailing season for Scarlet Lady until July 15, 2020, with our Maiden Voyage taking place August 7, 2020. The business is well supported and our partnership between the Virgin Group and Bain Capital means that Virgin Voyages can remain focused on the health and safety of our Sailors and Crew.
We want to make this change as convenient and fair as possible. So we are offering a range of options from a full refund and a voyage credit to extra special bonuses if you book a future sailing. The choice is entirely up to our Sailors, as it should be.
For those who would have sailed regardless of the global headlines, we appreciate this will be disappointing news. We are so grateful for your belief in us, and we hope you will join us when the time is right.
We are so excited for the future of Virgin Voyages as an experience for our Sailors and as a business. Scarlet Lady has three sister ships coming and our fleet will be bold and bright with a focused approach to addressing climate change through our commitment to a net zero carbon future.
We want to assure you that we have absolutely no health issues aboard our ship and have elevated protocols in place as we continue to put your well-being first. This is a once in a lifetime launch and a once in a lifetime customer experience, and we will do it together when we can all feel free to enjoy ourselves. To expand on our commitment to fostering the best environment for our Sailors, Virgin Voyages is working with relevant parties to research new technologies that will help to expedite health screenings and make people feel safe. Developments are ongoing and the hope is to identify this opportunity over the course of the next month.
Finally, despite what we are facing, travel will always be a way for us to connect with one another and open ourselves up to new ideas and ways of thinking. So while this isn’t the time for us to meet on the spectacular Scarlet Lady, it will be soon. We can’t wait to see you on board.
Richard and Tom
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