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June 30 updates: Further AQSC delay, Celestyal drops 2020 season, to resume March 2021

CRUISE Celestyal Olympia at Santorini.jpg
Celestyal Olympia is pictured off Santorini
Here's a quick read of some of today’s coronavirus-related cruise news and announcements.

Keep checking back. This is being continuously updated.

Further AQSC delay

American Queen Steamboat Co. delayed plans to resume sailings on American Empress in the Pacific Northwest through Aug. 2 and on American Duchess along the Mississippi through Aug. 16.

American Duchess is now planned to start service with the Aug. 17-23 Lower Mississippi voyage from New Orleans to Memphis.

'We have continued to monitor the climate surrounding COVID-19 and feel that extending our relaunch date is the most responsible way to uphold our commitment to the safety of each individual who steps on board one of our paddlewheelers and to the communities we visit,' said John Waggoner, CEO and founder, AQSC.

A 125% future cruise credit will be provided, valid for use through 2022.

As previously announced, American Countess and American Queen service is suspended through Aug. 8.

Celestyal drops 2020 season on continued uncertainty

Celestyal Cruises further suspended sailings until the 2021 season, commencing March 6.  

Leslie Peden, chief commercial officer, said that since Celestyal's core season runs from spring through autumn, the company was optimistic it would be able to resume operations later this summer. 'However, given the prevailing uncertainty regarding travel restrictions through the balance of our operating season from our largest international source markets, coupled with the continuing discussions at the European Union level regarding the enhanced health protocols that will apply to EU cruise operations, we made the difficult but prudent decision to postpone resuming cruise operations until the scheduled start of our normal spring season next year.'

He continued: 'We have already put our travel partners and guests through enough date changes on when cruising could return safely. By voluntarily pausing operations until our scheduled departures of next year, Celestyal will be better positioned to offer more clarity and certainty to our valued partners and guests, as well as peace of mind.'

Pent-up demand

The line is seeing 'encouraging signs of pent-up demand,' Peden added.

For all named and paid individual customers impacted by the suspension, Celestyal is offering a 120% future cruise credit. This can be applied through 2021 to any itinerary through 2022. Those who don't redeem their FCC by the end of 2021 will automatically receive a full refund. Vouchers will be sent directly to customers or their travel advisor so there is no need to contact the company.

'Escape To The Future' campaign

Celestyal recently launched a 2021 and 2022 digital brochure supported by the early booking 'Escape To The Future' promotional campaign and a 'Peace of Mind' policy that allows newly booked travelers to cancel any cruise that sails through 2021 at least 30 days before sailing date, without penalty. This will result in a 100% FCC that can be applied to any cruise through 2022.

The line, which operates Celestyal Olympia and Celestyal Crystal, was one of the first to immediately halt operations and reported no COVID-19 cases. Celestyal was able to repatriate passengers and crew before air travel and borders shut down globally.