Travel Experts Talk Cruising
By Gerry Barker_As COVID-19 continues to sideline the cruise industry, ships and their personnel aren’t the only ones affected. Those of us who cover it — hundreds of journalists, media and public relations professionals — are also in lockdown, perched in front of computers in our homes, dreaming about when we can get back to sea.
But thanks to technologies like Zoom, we can still interact with our colleagues and share information. The latest example was a virtual happy hour, organized by Harrison Liu, Director of Communications for Atlas Ocean Voyages, and the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).
NCL Extends 'Peace of Mind' Policy
(PRESS RELEASE)_MIAMI (July 29, 2020) – Norwegian Cruise Line, the innovator in global cruise travel with a 53-year history of breaking boundaries, today announced the extension of its Peace of Mind cancellation policy into 2021 as well as a protracted final payment schedule in an effort to instill consumer confidence and inspire guests to transform their destination daydreams into vacation reality.
Guests sailing on cruises booked by Aug. 31, 2020 with embarkation dates from Jan. 1, 2021 to Oct. 31,
2021, now have the flexibility to cancel their cruise 15 days prior to departure. Those who take advantage of the Peace of Mind policy will receive a full refund in the form of a future cruise credit which may be applied to any sailing through Dec. 31, 2022. The Peace of Mind policy, which also allows guests to cancel up to 48 hours prior to embarkation for 2020 sailings, was initially launched in March 2020 to reassure guests during this extraordinary time.
In addition, the Company has introduced a new final payment schedule for all 2020 voyages which requires payment 60 days prior to embarkation versus the standard 120 days.
“Now more than ever, travelers are looking for freedom and flexibility and that is what Norwegian Cruise
Line is all about,” said Harry Sommer, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “Our
Guests First philosophy compels us to put guests at the heart of every decision, which is exactly what we
are doing by enabling them to cancel very close-in to their anticipated embarkation date and by delaying
final payment to just 60 days prior to departure. We recognize the uncertainty we are all feeling right now
so it is important guests know that we have their best interests in mind.”
The company recently unveiled a year’s worth of aspirational voyages with itineraries sailing to all seven
continents through April 2023, including more than 20 new ports of call.
“We are optimistic about the future and remain committed to the safety, health and well-being of our guests, crew and the communities we visit,” said Sommer. “We recently announced our participation in the Healthy Sail Panel comprised of leading experts working to help ensure cruising remains one of the safest and most beautiful ways to see the world. With all voyages currently suspended through Oct. 31, 2020, we are taking the time to focus on health and safety standards by continuing to lead and innovate, as we have done for the last 53 years.”
For more information about Norwegian Cruise Line’s Peace of Mind policy and its new health and safety
protocols, visit www.ncl.com/peaceofmind.
To learn more about the Company’s 17-ship fleet and worldwide itineraries, or to book a cruise, please
contact a travel professional, call 888-NCL-CRUISE (625-2784) or visit www.ncl.com.
NCL Extends Suspension Until Oct. 31
(PRESS RELEASE)_MIAMI, Florida – July 29, 2020 – Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (“Norwegian” or “the Company”) (NYSE: NCLH), a leading global cruise company which operates the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, today announced an extension of its previously announced suspension of global cruise voyages to include all voyages embarking between October 1 and October 31, 2020 for its three cruise brands. In an effort to provide additional transparency, beginning in August, the Company plans to provide an update at the end of each month regarding the status of voyage suspensions, including any potential extensions.
The Company recently announced a collaboration with Royal Caribbean Group to develop enhanced cruise health and safety standards in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The Healthy Sail Panel is
comprised of top experts in public health, infectious disease, biosecurity, hospitality and maritime
operations, and is tasked with collaboratively developing recommendations for cruise lines to advance their public health response to COVID-19, improve safety, and achieve readiness for the safe resumption of operations. The Company will continue to work in tandem with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC), the federal government and global public health authorities to take all necessary
measures to protect its guests, crew and the communities visited.
Guests who are currently booked on cancelled voyages on Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises or
Regent Seven Seas Cruises are asked to contact their travel advisor or the cruise line for more information.
Bookings Open for 2023 Crystal Symphony
(PRESS RELEASE)_MIAMI, July 27, 2020 – Reservations are officially open for the 2023 luxury itineraries aboard Crystal Symphony, bringing three and a half years of luxury choices to market for discerning travelers. In all, Crystal Symphony will sail 36 all-inclusive itineraries of six to 15 nights, with 23 sailings of 10 days or fewer. Itineraries focus on Southeast Asia and India; the Middle East, Holy Land and Egypt; and the Mediterranean, Baltic and Australia – including a New Year’s Eve celebration in Sydney. For a limited time, the Crystal Confidence 2.0 program offers guests 90 days from the time of booking to place their deposit on any of Crystal’s Symphony’s newly released 2023 voyages or any 2020-2023 sailings across all brand experiences – Crystal Cruises, Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Yacht Cruises and Crystal Expedition Cruises.
Crystal Symphony will spend the entire year sailing abroad, offering guests multiple options to sail select regions at different times of year, including March and November itineraries through Southeast Asia and India; March, April and October itineraries through the Middle East, Egypt and Holy Land; and spring, summer and autumn options in the Mediterranean, Dalmatian Coast and Black Sea.
Sailings in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Holy Land, Mediterranean and Western Europe, the British Isles and Ireland highlight Crystal Symphony’s 2023 collection of voyages, all of which feature at least one overnight stay. Also featured are five maiden calls – in Kampot, Cambodia; Khor Fakkan, UAE; Bristol, England; Malmoe, Sweden; and Gisborne, New Zealand – as well as new embarkation and disembarkation in the boutique port of Eilat, Israel; a return to charming Skagen, Denmark for the first time in nine years; and an overnight in the fashionable city of Antwerp, Belgium (rare among ocean ships). Boutique ports accessible thanks to the smaller size of Crystal ships include Bordeaux’s city center; Kepez, Turkey; Port
Vendres, France; Bristol, England(gateway to Bath); Paphos, Cyprus and more.
Seatrade Luxury, River Cruise Webinar
By Gerry Barker_As some river and expedition cruising begins to come back in Europe, Seatrade Cruise Talks hosted a webinar July 16 on “Restarting Europe’s River and Luxury Cruises: Lessons Learnt.” Moderated by Seatrade’s Frederik Erdmann, it featured panelists Rudi Schreiner, president and co-founder of AmaWaterways, Monic van der Heyden, commercial manager for the Port of Amsterdam, and Emilio Freeman, vice-president of Itineraries and Destinations for Sea Dream Yacht Club.
READ MORE ON ALL THINGS CRUISE
Crystal Marks 30th Anniversary
(PRESS RELEASE)_MIAMI, July 24, 2020 – Today marks a special milestone for Crystal, as the company commemorates its 30th anniversary of luxury cruising. On July 24, 1990, Crystal Harmony sailed from San Francisco to Alaska on her maiden voyage debuting a single ship full of innovations including private verandah staterooms, alternative dining venues, extraordinary spaciousness and much more. Since that time, Crystal Cruises has welcomed its two highly awarded Ocean ships, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, to the fleet as the company said goodbye to Crystal Harmony in 2005.
Genting Hong Kong purchased the company in 2015, empowering Crystal’s vision to expand to new waters in response to its guests’ desire to travel the world in different ways in the embrace of the Crystal brand. Crystal Yacht Cruises launched in December that year with Crystal Esprit, followed by Crystal River Cruises in 2016, which now boasts the youngest and most luxurious fleet on Europe’s rivers.
“I am immensely grateful for the officers and crew, Crystal Society Members and travel partners who have made this 30th Anniversary milestone possible,” said Crystal’s president and CEO, Tom Wolber. “I want to thank all the members of the Crystal Family over the years who had the passion and dedication to create this company, and the vision for all the possibilities it represented, and our parent company, who has continued to empower this vision and steadfastly supports us every day.”
Crystal is observing the occasion tonight by hosting a special 30th Anniversary edition of Friday Nights at the Galaxy as part of its Crystal@Home: A Virtual Cruise Experience series of digital programming, which brings elements of the Crystal onboard experience to fans across the globe. The broadcast will begin tonight (July 24) at 6 p.m., Eastern Time on the Crystal Cruises Facebook page, and will be available for viewing following the broadcast on Facebook and on www.crystalcruises.com. The Crystal website also features a detailed timeline of Crystal’s milestones and innovations through its three decades.
In addition, Crystal’s 30th Anniversary guest-curated playlist – Crystal: Sailing Through 30 Years – is now available for download on Spotify. The playlist of 30 songs is curated by Crystal Society members, who submitted selections of songs that most reminded them of the voyages and experiences they have enjoyed with Crystal over the past 30 years. Iconic tunes like Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World, Andy Williams’ Moon River and Israel Kamakawiwo’le’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow – the traditional sail-away songs of Crystal Cruises, Crystal River Cruises and Crystal Yacht Cruises, respectively – are complemented by guests’ choices including classics like Bobby Darin’s Beyond the Sea, Nat King Cole’s Stardust, Billy Joel’s Piano Man and Frank Sinatra’s Girl From Ipanema.
Crystal is now making available for purchase its artfully designed Taste: Crystal’s 30th Anniversary Cookbook, thanks to the enthusiasm and high demand from guests following the book’s onboard release earlier this year. The culinary tome, comprising more than 260 pages of Crystal’s acclaimed recipes for classic and modern dishes, desserts, cocktails and more, was previously exclusively available to guests sailing aboard a designated 30th Anniversary itinerary. Crystal’s globally inspired creative cuisine, served in an array of all-inclusive, onboard venues including Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s only seagoing restaurants, has long been a celebrated hallmark of the brand. Guests can order their personal copy at cookbook.crystalcruisesbrochure.com.
While its fleet is paused, the company has been developing new procedures and policies that will support all public health and regulatory requirements and ensure that guests’ vacations continue to be not only relaxing and pleasurable but safe and healthy. The new Crystal Clean+ 2.0 protocols, announced on July 22, are the initial set of measures for Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, developed with the latest data available from health experts and will be updated as new information and guidelines becomes available. Details can be found here. Currently in development are measures for Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Yacht Cruises and Crystal Expedition Cruises. The safety of its guests and crew members is Crystal’s number one priority and the fleet will resume service only when the company’s expert team and global health and government authorities indicate that it is safe to do so.
Royal Reinvents the Muster Drill
(PRESS RELEASE)_MIAMI, July 24, 2020 – Royal Caribbean Group is replacing one of the least-loved but most important parts of a cruise vacation – the safety drill – with Muster 2.0™, an entirely new approach to delivering safety information to guests. The innovative program, the first of its kind, reimagines a process originally designed for large groups of people into a faster, more personal approach that encourages higher levels of safety.
With Muster 2.0, the key elements of the safety drill – including reviewing what to expect and where to go in case of an emergency, and instructions on how to properly use a life jacket – will be accessible to guests on an individual basis instead of a group approach that has been followed historically. New technology, eMuster™, will be used to help provide the information to guests via their mobile devices and interactive stateroom TVs. Travelers will be able to review the information at their own time prior to setting sail, eliminating the need for the traditional large group assemblies. The new approach also enables everyone on board to maintain better spacing as guests move about the ship, and it allows guests to enjoy more of their vacation with no interruption.
After reviewing safety information individually, guests will complete the drill by visiting their assigned assembly station, where a crew member will verify that all steps have been completed and answer questions. Each of the steps will need to be completed prior to the ship’s departure, as required by international maritime law.
“The health and safety of our guests and crew are our number one priority, and the development of this new muster process is an elegant solution to an outdated, unpopular process,” said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group. “The fact that this will also save guests time and allow the ship to operate without pause means that we can increase health, safety and guest satisfaction simultaneously.”
“Muster 2.0 represents a natural extension of our mission to improve our guests’ vacation experiences by removing points of friction,” said Jay Schneider, Royal Caribbean Group’s senior vice president of digital. “In this instance, what’s most convenient for our guests is also the safest option in light of needing to reimagine social spaces in the wake of COVID-19.
This marks the first dramatic change to the safety drill process in a decade, since Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas moved the life jackets from guest staterooms to the muster stations, which improved the evacuation process and has been widely followed throughout the industry. More than a year in the making, Muster 2.0 is also an initiative that will be part of the comprehensive set of protocols and procedures Royal Caribbean Group is developing along with the Healthy Sail Panel that was recently assembled in collaboration with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.
“This new process represents the kind of innovation that the Healthy Sail Panel is focusing on as part of its mission to enhance the health and safety of cruising,” said former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, co-chair of the Healthy Sail Panel. “It shows that we can accomplish a lot if we try to think outside the box on safety.”
“I'd like to extend my congratulations to Royal Caribbean Group on this innovative milestone. It's exactly what our industry needs during these unprecedented times and we appreciate the generous offer to participate in this innovation,” said Frank Del Rio, President and CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “In this industry, we all work cooperatively to enhance health and safety, and this is an example of that.”
The distributed muster for ocean-going vessels concept is patented in the United States and is patent-pending in major markets around the world, including the various cruise industry flag states. The company has also worked with international regulators, the U.S. Coast Guard and other maritime and government authorities to ensure it meets all safety requirements.
In addition to introducing the new process on the ships of its own cruise lines – Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara – Royal Caribbean Group is offering to license the patented technology to interested cruise operators and will waive patent license fees during the time the world and industry battle the global pandemic. Patent licenses have already been granted to the company’s joint venture, TUI Cruises GmbH, as well as Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Muster 2.0 was first tested on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas in January 2020. Guests who took part in the mock process indicated a strong preference for the new approach and also reported better comprehension and retention of the safety information.
Crystal Confidence 2.0 Debuts
(PRESS RELEASE)_MIAMI, July 23, 2020 – As travelers continue to navigate the uncertainty of planning travel during this time, Crystal is expanding its peace of mind focused booking policies. For a limited time, the new Crystal Confidence 2.0 allows travelers 90 days from the time of booking to place their deposit on all new 2020-2023 reservations across all brand experiences – Crystal Cruises, Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Yacht Cruises and Crystal Expedition Cruises. In addition, the company is relaxing final payment deadlines for all its current savings programs.
Crystal developed the new policy updates in response to the current environment as the global Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact when and where cruising can resume. Differing requirements from countries worldwide and no established guidelines for resumption of service continue to delay cruise lines’ ability to operate, creating uncertainty for cruise lines and travelers alike.
“We understand that many travelers are eager to begin planning vacations and exploring the world again but may be hesitant to make commitments of travel time and resources during this challenging period,” said Carmen Roig, Crystal’s senior vice president of marketing and sales. “The expanded window for deposits and relaxed final payment schedules offer them an opportunity to look forward to future journeys and book their dream vacations with ease.”
The 90-day extended commitment window for deposits complements the already generous peace of mind booking policies available. Details of policies include:
Crystal Confidence Update: Relaxed Final Payment and Cancellation Policy for All 2020 Voyages – Final payment is now due 30 days prior to first date of service; guests will now receive a full refund (less admin fees) for cancellation of 2020 voyages up to 30 days prior to first date of service. Guests can also cancel up to seven days prior to first date of service and receive a 100 percent Future Cruise Credit for monies paid, redeemable through the end of 2023.
New Crystal Confidence 2.0: Relaxed Final Payment and Cancellation Policies – Now extended through April 2021, Crystal Confidence 2.0 offers both relaxed cancellation terms and a final payment of 60 days prior to departure (previously 120 days prior) for all new bookings.
Extended Early Full Payment Savings Program – Early payment has now been extended to 180 days prior to first date of service (the previous payment window was 270 days) to receive an additional 2.5 percent in savings for all experiences including Ocean, River, Yacht and Expedition.
Advance Purchase Savings (Crystal River Cruises) – For a limited time, guests booking one of more than 60 sailings from March through December 2021 will now have 90 days from the time of booking to place their non-refundable full payment of $3,699 per person – a savings of up to 50 percent – for the best available suite at the time of booking. As per the original program parameters, guests have the flexibility to change their first date of service to another applicable sailing with no penalty before December 31, 2020.
Crystal’s Easy Book Program – For all 2021-2023 bookings, guests can book with a reduced deposit of 15 percent, regardless of voyage length, and receive waived administrative fees. The new 90-day deferred deposit applies.
Additional peace of mind programs include:
Crystal Voyage Assurance – Providing guests enhanced travel protection in the event that unforeseen travel restrictions require significant changes to set itineraries. Valid on new and existing bookings on itineraries from November 2020 through April 2021 aboard Crystal Symphony and select itineraries from October 2020 through April 2021 aboard Crystal Serenity.
Crystal Clean+, Confidence Anchored by Care --The safety of guests and crew members is Crystal’s number one priority and the fleet will resume service only when the company’s expert team and global health and government authorities indicate that it is safe to do so. When Crystal ships do return to sailing, they will do so with detailed Crystal Clean+ health and safety protocols. The new Crystal Clean+ 2.0 protocols, announced on July 22, are the initial set of measures for Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, developed with the latest data available from health experts and will be updated as new information and guidelines becomes available. Details can be found here. Currently in development are measures for Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Yacht Cruises and Crystal Expedition Cruises.
Carnival Updates Fleet Changes
(PRESS RELEASE)_MIAMI, July 23, 2020 – Carnival Cruise Line today announced new plans for its fleet that will generate tremendous guest excitement once it resumes sailing, with a confirmed date for an additional Excel-class, LNG-powered ship arriving in November 2022, four ships either sold or put on long term lay-up status, and other ships redeployed to new homeports, as it seeks to leverage its strong network of year-round and seasonal homeports in the U.S. with upgraded offerings. The highlights of the plan include:
· As part of Carnival’s 50th birthday in 2022, a November 2022 delivery date for the unnamed, second Excel-class ship has been confirmed from the Meyer Turku shipyard. The sister ship to Mardi Gras will showcase many of her features, including BOLT, the first roller coaster at sea, and sail out of PortMiami as previously announced. Carnival said it will open the ship for sale this fall and guests can register to be the “first to know” about the ship’s itineraries and special open for sale promotions at www.carnival.com/ship2022.
· As part of Carnival Corporation’s recent announcement to reduce its overall capacity and focus on ships with upgraded features, Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Inspiration have been sold. Carnival Fascination and Carnival Imagination will move to a long term lay-up status, with no specific timeline identified for a return to operation.
· Carnival Sensation will move from Miami to Mobile and take up itineraries previously assigned to Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Fascination, with guests on those two ships being re-accommodated on Carnival Sensation.
· Carnival Sunrise will move from Port Everglades to PortMiami and assume the itineraries previously operated by Carnival Sensation, providing a larger, upgraded ship for short itineraries with the many new features installed during Carnival Sunrise’s $200 million transformation completed in 2019. Guests booked on the Sunrise 4- and 5-day itineraries from Port Everglades will be automatically moved to sailings from PortMiami.
· Carnival Sunrise is part of Carnival’s 50th birthday celebration and there will be no changes to her birthday sailing, which is scheduled for March 5, 2022. These special sailings have been in high demand and will feature special entertainment, at-sea ship rendezvous and onboard activities and offerings. For more information on this special group of itineraries in March 2022, please visit www.carnival.com/sailabration.
· Carnival Fascination itineraries from San Juan and Barbados have been cancelled for 2020-2021 as the cruise line focuses its return to operations on mainland drive markets in the U.S.
· Itineraries for Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration from Long Beach have been cancelled through Apr. 19, 2021. Carnival Panorama will continue to operate 7-day cruises from Long Beach while Carnival Miracle will operate shorter itineraries from San Diego to Baja Mexico.
· Carnival Radiance will now move directly from Europe after its $200 million transformation and homeport in Long Beach in April of 2021, where it will assume the short Baja Mexico itineraries previously served by Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration. Guests booked on Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration after April 22, 2021 will be re-accommodated on Carnival Radiance, where they will experience the host of upgrades and new features including Shaq’s Big Chicken Restaurant and an expanded waterpark popular with families sailing with children.
· Separately, Carnival also notified its Australian guests that it has extended its pause of operations in that country, and has cancelled six cruises scheduled to operate between Sept. 25 and Oct. 29, 2020.
“We have used this pause in operations to think carefully about our fleet and to build a plan that gives our guests new choices and upgrades to current ship offerings,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “We have a great variety of ships across the Carnival Cruise Line fleet and we are thrilled to have been able to confirm a delivery date ahead of what we had anticipated for our second Excel ship, which is exciting news for guests interested in sailing from PortMiami on the sister ship to Mardi Gras! At the same time, we will continue to invest in the four remaining Fantasy class ships that we are keeping in the fleet. We have many guests who prefer our Fantasy class ships which work so well for shorter itineraries from smaller ports that cannot accommodate our larger ships. With a fleet that gives guests lots of choices in ships, homeports, destinations and features including a multitude of dining, entertainment and accommodation choices, we are very excited about the future for Carnival Cruise Line.”
Guests and travel agents are being notified directly about impacted sailings, guest re-accommodations and cancellations. Duffy thanked guests and travel agent partners alike for their continued patience, loyalty and support during this unprecedented time for the cruise industry. “With our future fleet plan resolved, we are focused on ensuring we are ready to return to operations once it is determined that the time is right to resume cruising in the U.S.,” she said.
Princess Extends Operations Pause
(PRESS RELEASE)_SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (July 22, 2020) – Due to the continued progression of COVID-19 and related decisions of various government, health authorities, and airlines regarding travel restrictions, Princess Cruises is extending its pause in cruise operations impacting the following voyages:
Guests currently booked on these cancelled voyages who have paid Princess in full will have the option to receive a refundable Future Cruise Credit (FCC) equivalent to 100% of the cruise fare paid plus an additional non-refundable bonus FCC equal to 25% of the cruise fare.
For guests who have not paid in full, Princess will Double the Deposit, providing a refundable FCC for the money currently on deposit plus a matching bonus FCC that can be used on any voyage through May 1, 2022. The matching bonus FCC is non-refundable, will not exceed the base cruise fare amount of the currently booked cruise, and will have a minimum value of $100 per person.
To receive the above FCCs, no action is required by the guest or their travel advisor.
Alternatively, guests can request a full refund for all monies paid on their booking through this online form. Requests must be received by August 31, 2020 or guests will be registered for the Future Cruise Credit option.
Princess will protect travel advisor commissions on bookings for cancelled cruises that were paid in full in recognition of the critical role they play in the cruise line’s business and success.
The most current information and instructions for booked guests affected by these cancellations, and more information on FCCs and refunds, can be found online at Information on Impacted & Cancelled Cruises.
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