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May 18 updates: Norway/Svalbard news, bevy of Regent/NCL offers, Spain OKs international travel at 13 airports/seaports

CRUISE Costa Smeralda bunkering LNG in Barcelona.jpg
Costa Smeralda is pictured bunkering LNG in Barcelona in December 2019. The port can now take international arrivals but when cruises may restart is unknown
Here's a quick read of some of today’s coronavirus-related cruise news and announcements.

Keep checking back. This is being continuously updated.

Norway closed to foreigners into late August

While Norway has begun to ease COVID-19 restrictions for residents, the ban on most international visitors has been extended to late August. There are some exceptions, and the country is reviewing whether to open travel within the Nordic region. A decision is expected no later than June 15.

Svalbard to open for Norwegians

Meanwhile, Svalbard is planned to open for travelers from the Norwegian mainland starting June 1. 

'The community in Longyearbyen has been significantly affected by the economic consequences of the pandemic. It is appropriate that we enable the travel and leisure industry in Svalbard to resume activity at the same time as official recommendations for leisure travel on the mainland are revised,' Minister of Justice and Public Security Monica Mæland said.

'Return with Regent' and incentives for travel advisors

Regent Seven Seas Cruises launched 'Return with Regent' to 'inspire guests to travel the world once more with confidence.' Along with 50% reduced deposits and a $1,000 shipboard credit, the offer includes the 'Regent Reassurance.' This allows cancellation for any reason up to 15 days before departure to receive a 100% future cruise credit.

Valid for new bookings made by July 31, 'Return with Regent' is applicable to all sailings through 2022.

Travel advisor incentives

In conjunction with this promotion, travel advisors will earn a $100 gift card for every new deposited booking made by July 31. The gift card will be paid within 60 days of the end of the promotion, not after sailing.

Additionally, travel advisors and a companion have the chance to sail with Regent in a 'Sell and Sail' incentive. Those who make two new bookings on 2020 voyages will earn a free 2020 cruise, while three new bookings on 2021 or 2022 voyages will earn a free 2021 or 2022 cruise. Eligible bookings must be registered by Aug. 15.

NCL extends 'Peace of Mind' policy through November

Norwegian Cruise Line extended its 'Peace of Mind' flexible cancellation policy through Nov. 30. This allows cancellation up to 48 hours in advance of embarkation. Travelers get a future cruise credit in the full amount paid to be used for sailings that embark through 2022.

In addition, NCL is offering a 20% discount through May 31 on all sailings from October 2020 through December 2022 when a customer uses their FCC. The line also extended its 5% bonus commission for travel partners through May 31.

Free add-ons, free air, Memorial Day Sale

NCL is giving further value for cruises starting at $199 where travelers can receive five free offers including open bar, specialty dining, excursions, Wi-Fi and children sail free, in any category stateroom.

Also, through May 20, NCL is offering free airfare for cruises in Alaska, Europe and Hawaii.  And a Memorial Day Sale, for new bookings made from May 21-31, gives an added on-board credit up to $200 for those who book a balcony category stateroom or higher. This is in addition to the offer of five add-ons.

Spain OKs international travel at 13 airports/seaports but quarantine still stands

Spain's Ministry of Transport announced a list of five airports and eight seaports through which international traffic will be allowed. The regulation will apply at least through midnight May 24 and may be extended to a later date.

The airports are Madrid, Barcelona, Málaga, Gran Canaria and Palma de Mallorca.

Ports include Barcelona, Bilbao, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Málaga, Palma de Mallorca, Tenerife, Valencia and Vigo. Cross-referencing the two lists, except for Madrid, the other airports serve Spain's three leading cruise ports by passenger volume and number of port calls in 2019 and the sixth-ranked, Málaga.

While it is not yet possible to estimate a recovery in cruise operations, this announcement at least removes one area of uncertainty.

At the moment, anyone arriving in Spain has to undergo a 14-day quarantine which means a cruise carrying any non-Spaniards is not possible. There has been strong pushback from the tourism sector regarding the quarantine but the dynamics within the central government are complicated. Furthermore, the public health system is controlled separately by each of the 17 regional governments, the equivalent of states in the US.