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May 6 updates: Seabourn/HAL/Princess cancellations through summer; Royal, Celebrity, Azamara best price guarantee; crew helpline

CRUISE Sky Princess.jpg
Cancellations include summer cruises on Sky Princess, the newest ship in the Princess fleet
In addition to feature-story coverage, here's a quick read of some of today’s coronavirus-related cruise news and announcements.

Keep checking back. This is being continuously updated.

Seabourn pause extends into October-November

Seabourn's suspension of service was extended from June 30 to different dates in October and November for each of its five ships.

Seabourn Encore, Seabourn Ovation and Seabourn Odyssey will not operate their Europe sailings, through Oct. 19, Nov. 6 and Nov. 20, respectively. Seabourn Sojourn cancellations go through the Alaska/British Columbia season, until after Oct. 13. Seabourn Quest will not sail through the Canada/New England season, until after Nov. 6.

Travelers who have paid in full will automatically receive a 125% future cruise credit. Those with bookings under deposit will receive an FCC valued at 125% of the deposit amount paid plus an on-board credit of $300 per suite. The FCC is valid for 12 months and may be used for sailings departing through 2022.

Alternatively, travelers may request a refund.

HAL cancels all Alaska, Canada/New England voyages and 'Grand Africa'

Holland America Line canceled all Alaska, Europe and Canada/New England cruises for 2020. In addition, Amsterdam will not operate its 79-day 'Grand Africa Voyage' from Boston to Fort Lauderdale, scheduled to depart on Oct. 3.

HAL had previously canceled all 2020 Land+Sea Journeys, which combine an Alaska cruise with an overland tour to Denali and the Yukon.  

Passengers on canceled cruises who had paid in full will receive a 125% future cruise credit. Those with bookings not paid in full will receive an FCC double the amount of the deposit paid. The minimum FCC is $100 and the maximum will be an amount up to the base cruise fare paid.

The FCC is valid for 12 months from the date of issue and may be used for sailings departing through 2022. 

Alternatively, passengers may request a full refund via this online form no later than June 15.

Princess cancels remaining summer cruises

Princess Cruises canceled select sailings through the end of the summer season across a broad range of geographies, including the following itineraries and associated cruise-tours: All remaining Alaska cruises on Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess — these are Seattle round-trips — and all remaining Europe and trans-Atlantic cruises on Enchanted Princess, Regal Princess, Sky Princess, Crown Princess and Island Princess.

Caribbean and Canada/New England

Also canceled: Summer Caribbean sailings and all Canada/New England cruises on Caribbean Princess and Sky Princess.

Japan, Australia, Taiwan

Summer to fall cruises departing from Japan on Diamond Princess are canceled, along with Australia-based cruises on Sapphire Princess and Sea Princess through the end of August, and July cruises from Taiwan on Majestic Princess.

Fall cruises sailing to Hawaii and French Polynesia on Pacific Princess are canceled through November.

'Among other disruptions, airlines have limited their flight availability and many popular cruise ports are closed. It saddens us to think about the impact on the livelihood of our teammates, business partners and the communities we visit,' Princess President Jan Swartz said.

Passengers on these canceled voyages who have paid in full will receive a 125% future cruise credit. For those who have not paid in full, Princess will double the deposit, providing a refundable FCC for the money on deposit plus a matching FCC bonus that may be used on any voyage through May 1, 2022.

The matching bonus FCC will not exceed the base cruise fare amount of the current cruise and will have a minimum value of $100 per person. In order to receive the FCC, no action is required.

Alternatively, passengers may request a refund using this online form. Requests must be received by June 15 or the FCC option will apply.

Princess will protect travel advisor commissions on bookings for canceled cruises that were paid in full.

Royal, Celebrity, Azamara extend 'Cruise with Confidence,' add rebooking options

Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara extended their 'Cruise with Confidence' flexible cancellation policy to sailings through April 2022.

For new and existing bookings created by Aug. 1, 2020, passengers may cancel their cruise up to 48 hours prior to sailing and receive future cruise credit through April 2022.

Best price guarantee

The three lines also introduced new rebooking options. These include a best price guarantee allowing price changes and promotional offers on a reservation up to 48 hours before the cruise departs.

'Lift and shift'

And, as close as 48 hours prior to sailing, travelers have the ability to 'lift and shift' their cruise to the same itinerary departing on a future date. The original price and promotional offer on the reservation will be protected, along with the stateroom category.

'Guests are reacting positively to our Cruise with Confidence policy because it enables them to make informed decisions and to better manage complicated travel plans during this unprecedented time of uncertainty,' RCL Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said. He added the policy increases consumer confidence to schedule new bookings, knowing last-minute travel adjustments are allowed.

Sailors' Society dedicated helpline/grants

International maritime welfare charity Sailors' Society launched a dedicated COVID-19 helpline for seafarers and their families. This offers confidential, 24-hour support to those worried about or adversely affected by the pandemic.

'Many seafarers don’t know when they will sign off and return home; others haven’t been able to start contracts due to lockdowns. They are worried about losing their income and anxious about loved ones. The toll on their mental health is apparent,' said Sandra Welch, the charity's COO and director of program.

'We are also offering grants to help seafarers and their families whose incomes have been decimated through loss of work and would encourage those in need to get in touch,' Welch added.