Since COVID-19 first struck the globe at the beginning of the year, it has spread to become a global pandemic. Many countries have implemented travel restrictions and millions of people are changing their travel plans in an effort to protect themselves and to minimize the risk of spreading this virus. Naturally, this has had a major impact on our industry, especially as initial outbreaks of COVID-19 were found on cruise ships. If you’re concerned about how COVID-19 might impact your travel plans, we hope this article can offer a bit more information for you. And if you’ve scheduled travel through Cruise Elite, please feel free to reach out to us with your questions and concerns. We’ll do our best to help.
Suspension of U.S. Cruise Operations
On March 13, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced voluntary suspension of all ocean-going cruise ship operations from U.S. ports of call. The suspension is currently slated to last for 30 days and took effect immediately. CLIA cruise lines are currently making efforts to ensure the safe return of all ships currently at sea that will be impacted by this decision.
CLIA is the world’s largest cruise industry trade association and includes some of the biggest cruise lines in the industry, including:
- American Cruise Lines
- Carnival Cruise Line
- Celebrity Cruises
- Crystal Cruises
- Disney Cruise Line
- Holland America Line
- Norwegian Cruise Line
- Princess Cruises
- Royal Caribbean International
- Virgin Voyages
If you have a cruise itinerary impacted by this suspension, reach out to your travel advisor or to the cruise line directly, if you booked your cruise on your own. Many cruise lines have already initiated contact with impacted travelers, and are offering future cruise credits or refunds. If you haven’t been contacted by your cruise line yet, please reach out to ensure that you receive your refund or credit for your cancelled voyage.
Changes to Flight Plans
We realize that cruise plans often include flights to and from the port of call for your ship, so we also want to make sure you’re aware of changes to airlines’ flight cancellation policies in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Every major airline in the United States is now offering options to allow flyers to change or cancel their travel plans with minimal fees and inconvenience.
However, every airline’s policy is different, and most of these new policies are restricted to travel plans booked in a certain date range, with specific travel dates. So, it’s important to do your research to find out exactly what kind of option the airline you booked with is offering. You can find a list of all fee waiver and refund policies by airline here, or you can reach out to your travel agent or to the airline itself.
Please be aware that call volumes for airlines at this time are extremely high, so you may have a long wait time. If your travel plans are not for several more weeks, we recommend waiting until it is closer to your travel date so that those with more immediate travel plans can have their needs addressed.
Impact on Travel Agents
Of course, all of this impact on the travel industry at large is going to have an impact on travel agencies like ours. We are deeply concerned with the health and safety of every one of our clients, and we will do all we can to help you to cancel or adjust your travel plans as needed. We only ask for your patience and understanding as we put in this extra time to assist each of our clients during this difficult time.
Please understand that travel agents work largely on a commission-based income, and more often than not, we do not receive income for cancelled travel plans. Of course, our number-one concern is your health, and we will gladly help you with rearranging and cancelling trips as needed. We only hope that, when the crisis is over, you come back and book with us again. Until then, Cruise Elite’s travel agents are prepared to help you receive refunds or credits, postpone cruises, or cancel flights as needed. Just give us a call.
If you are concerned about how COVID-19 is impacting your travel plans, have a cruise itinerary impacted by the cruise suspension, or otherwise need to change or cancel your travel plans in wake of the pandemic, please feel free to reach out to us. We’ll do all we can to help you get things taken care. And when this is all behind us, please keep Cruise Elite in mind for booking your future vacations.