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Travel advisors 'Get Paid Now' for Atlas Ocean Voyages' 2021 debut season

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'Travel advisors are losing earnings due to cancellations but continue to have bills and expenses. Atlas' Get Paid Now program will immediately help travel sellers get through this industry downturn,' Alberto Aliberti said

World Navigator to debut July 2021

Atlas is scheduled to begin sailing with its new ship, World Navigator, in July next year in the Adriatic, Black Sea, Holy Lands, South America and Antarctica. Travel advisors will receive a $500 gift card per veranda- and horizon-category stateroom booking, and a $750 gift card per suite booking.

The 'Get Paid Now' incentive is in addition to the existing promotional 15% commission for all summer 2021 and winter 2021-22 bookings aboard World Navigator.

Plus, savings and air offer

Additionally, travelers will get $1,000 savings per person and free business-class air when booking a suite, $500 savings per person and free economy-class air for a horizon- or veranda-category stateroom and $500 savings person in an adventure stateroom. The free air is for the intercontinental segment and journeys departing prior to Oct. 28, 2021.

Atlas Ocean Voyages is also offering travelers a 50% reduced deposit of $500 per person per stateroom and $750 per person per suite. Furthermore, the line is allowing free changes, so customers can carry their deposit to any World Navigator departure, up until March 31, 2022, without penalty.

Immediate support for travel partners

'The current travel atmosphere is dynamic and complex, but what is important and clear is that we must maintain our unwavering support for our valued travel advisor partners,' said Alberto Aliberti, president of Atlas Ocean Voyages. 'We must recognize that travel advisors are losing earnings due to cancellations but continue to have bills and expenses. Atlas' Get Paid Now program will immediately help travel sellers get through this industry downturn.'

Atlas promises a 'luxe adventure' experience with inclusive pricing on its expedition-style newbuild, which carries fewer than 200 passengers. The fleet is planned to expand to five ships by 2023.

Singapore Ministry of Health halts cruise calls

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It's temporarily lights out for cruise ships in Singapore

On Friday, amid a raft of actions to stem the spread of coronavirus, Singapore's Ministry of Health announced: 'With immediate effect, Singapore will cease port calls for all cruise vessels.'

Disney, Windstar, AmaWaterways, Avalon, Celestyal pause operations

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Disney's four-ship fleet will stop sailing through the end of March. Pictured here: Disney Fantasy

They are Disney Cruise Line, Windstar Cruises, AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways and Celestyal Cruises.

Disney

The Walt Disney Co. is taking the dramatic step of temporarily shuttering its theme parks worldwide, and Disney Cruise Line's four-ship fleet will suspend new departures starting Saturday through the end of March.

Windstar Cruises

Windstar Cruises, too, will suspend sailing embarking from Saturday through April. The line intends to resume operations May 1.

Travelers on canceled cruises can choose a future cruise credit valued at 125% of all monies paid to Windstar or a refund equal to the amount paid on the Windstar booking. They will have 24 months to book and embark on any available cruise using the credit. Travel advisor commissions are protected.

AmaWaterways

The start of AmaWaterways' European river cruise season was postponed until April 26 and Mekong River cruises are being suspended starting March 23.

Travelers on a canceled sailing have the option of receiving a future cruise credit equal to 115% of the value of all services purchased through AmaWaterways or a full refund. The credit is applicable on all Europe or Mekong River sailings before Dec. 31, 2022.

Additionally, the company will protect the commissions of travel advisors whose clients opt for the credit and will pay an additional 10% on the value of the future booking. AmaWaterways also will pay commission on any fare difference.

Avalon Waterways

Avalon Waterways and other brands in the Globus family are suspending travel across all destinations through April 30.

Avalon introduced a new 'Peace of Mind Plan' for travelers whose trips are impacted. This allows them to move travel dates without incurring cancellation fees, land or airline penalties. It also gives a bonus credit of $200 per person for a new reservation, redeemable for any future 2020, 2021 or 2022 vacation.

Travelers who cancel will get a refund but must advise the company by March 31.

Celestyal Cruises

Starting Saturday, Celestyal Cruises is halting operations until May 1. The line plans to recommence then with its three-night 'Iconic Aegean' itinerary on Celestyal Olympia, followed May 2 by the seven-night 'Eclectic Aegean' route on Celestyal Crystal.

Celestyal is offering a future cruise credit valued at 120% of the original booking value or a full refund. Travelers will have until the end of December 2021 to use their credit. Anyone who has not done so by then will automatically receive a refund equal to the original amount paid to Celestyal.

The line said it would automatically issue the credits to travelers who don't cancel so there is no need to call to request that option.

Commission protection a lifeline for cruise retailers

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Silversea is one of the brands that's not only protecting commission for the canceled cruise but paying commission on the sailing booked with the future cruise credit. Here, Silver Muse in New Zealand

Policies vary, and the situation is extremely fluid.

Easing cash-flow crunch

'Agents are encouraged by these protections. This is a cash-flow issue for them,' said Mark Conroy, managing director, the Americas, Silversea.

Some pay commission on FCC, too

Many lines have instituted more flexible cancellation policies that give future cruise credits. Some, like Silversea, are even paying commission when the FCC is redeemed.  

Among the others that do this are Silversea's sister brands Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara, plus Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises USA and Princess Cruises.

Commission protection a lifeline

'Every travel agent I talk with is urging other lines to follow these brands because it's a lifeline,' particularly for some of the smaller agents, said Mike Driscoll, editor of Cruise Week, a bible for retailers.

Driscoll said commission-protection policies ensure that 'when the business comes back, this distribution channel is ready to sell when the cruise lines need them most.'

Avoiding the post-9/11 scenario

According to Driscoll, after 9/11, by the end of 2003, the travel industry lost 50% of its sellers. 'By doing these types of protections, that's not going to happen this time,' he said.

Spanish ports turning away cruise ships for 14 days

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Spain's numerous cruise destinations, including Barcelona here, will be turning away passenger ships for the next two weeks

Spain's Council of Ministers made the decision during an extraordinary meeting today, in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus.

This temporary measure may be extended for additional periods not exceeding 14 days and evaluated periodically, particularly taking into account the evolution of the pandemic, especially in Italy.

Ship cases would burden shoreside health services

The restriction is intended to reduce the threat of coronavirus transmission in ports and destinations since 'cases on a ship would have a very important impact both on the passengers and the crew, as well as on the health services of the town where the ship docked,' the Council said.

The Ministry of Health has the authority to lift the ban in exceptional circumstances, under strict sanitation controls.

The measure closely follows the prohibition of flights between Italy and Spanish airports on March 10.

A ‘Taste of Salt’ in Sydney aboard Pacific Explorer

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Luke Mangan with Lyndsey Gordon, P&O Cruises Australia’s public relations manager Australia and New Zealand, and event coordinator Simone Pighini aboard Pacific Explorer in Sydney

Multimillion-dollar upgrade

The occasion was to showcase Pacific Explorer, the former Dawn Princess, after a multimillion-dollar upgrade at the Sembcorp Marine Admiralty Yard in Singapore. 

Signature dishes

Mangan, who now has floating restaurants on all P&O Australia ships and is also the celebrity chef for the Eastern Oriental Express travelling between Singapore and Bangkok, served his signature dishes of kingfish sashimi and liquorice parfait.

His popular dining outlet on the top deck of Pacific Explorer overlooking the pool has been transformed into a restaurant that now serves dinner, as well as lunch.

Family accommodation

Both major theatres and many of the ship’s public spaces have been revamped and new games activities and accommodation choices for families have been introduced.

Move to Brisbane

‘Pacific Explorer has an exciting year ahead with her upcoming move to Brisbane when Pacific Adventure joins the fleet and is based in Sydney this October,’ P&O Cruises Australia President Sture Myrmell said. 

‘The refurbishment is an exciting start to Pacific Explorer’s final season in Sydney and we can expect to ‘wow’ a new audience in Queensland,’ Myrmell said.

Monaco turns away cruise ships and discourages tours through April

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Monte Carlo is expected to lose up to 20,000 cruise visitors directly from the ships during the suspension. Excursions from nearby ports are also discouraged

Up to 20,000 passengers

The first ship of the season was expected on March 23. Some 25 other calls were planned during April, representing a total of 15,000 to 20,000 passengers.

Excursions from other ports discouraged

'Monaco would not be able to take charge of a large number of infected people on a cruise ship,' State Minister Serge Telle said. 'Moreover, as for potential passengers coming from other ports of call in the nearby region, we encourage bus lines not to suggest Monaco as an option for tourism activities.'

Virgin Voyages postpones inaugural season until July 15

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'This is a once-in-a-lifetime launch and a once-in-lifetime customer experience, and we will do it together when we can all feel free to enjoy ourselves,' Richard Branson and Tom McAlpin said

'The current global health crisis is understandably making many people rethink upcoming travel plans. While there have been no health concerns on our ship Scarlet Lady, the Virgin Voyages team has engaged future sailors and travel partners as we all navigate this challenging moment together,' the company said.

Note from Sir Richard and Tom McAlpin

'This is a once-in-a-lifetime launch and a once-in-a-lifetime customer experience, and we will do it together when we can all feel free to enjoy ourselves,'  Richard Branson and Virgin Voyages CEO Tom McAlpin said in a note to customers.

New technologies to expedite health screenings

'To expand on our commitment to fostering the best environment for our sailors (passengers), Virgin Voyages is working with relevant parties to research new technologies that will help to expedite health screenings and make people feel safe. Developments are ongoing and the hope is to identify this opportunity over the course of the next month.

'Finally, despite what we are facing, travel will always be a way for us to connect with one another and open ourselves up to new ideas and ways of thinking. So while this isn’t the time for us to meet on the spectacular Scarlet Lady, it will be soon. We can’t wait to see you on board.'

Branson and McAlpin also said the business is 'well-supported and our partnership between the Virgin Group and Bain Capital means that Virgin Voyages can remain focuse on the health abd safety of our sailors and crew.'

200% future cruise credit or refund and 25% FCC

Booked passengers are getting a range of options from a full refund and a voyage credit to bonus offerings for future sailings.

Choices include 200% in future voyage credit, double the value of what the customer has paid.

Passengers can also receive up to $500 in on-board credit if they re-book before June 30.

Those who request a refund will get that plus a 25% future voyage credit on the value paid to use for a future cruise.

Bergen and several other Norwegian ports halt cruise shore visits

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Passengers aren't allowed ashore in Bergen. The exception: lines in regular service, including Hurtigruten

The policy is in place for Bergen, where cruise ships can dock and take on provisions, but passengers must remain on board. Bergen Municipality took the decision Wednesday, with immediate effect.

Hurtigruten, Fjord Line continue normal operations

Robert Rastad, kommunaldirektør (township clerk), said the measure is to limit the risk of coronavirus spreading.

Operators calling Bergen in regularly scheduled traffic are allowed to continue embarking and disembarking. These include Hurtigruten and the ferry operator Fjord Line. Both continue normal operations and are conducting passenger turnarounds at Bergen.

The first impacted cruise ship is AIDAaura, which was underway from Trondheim to Bergen on Thursday morning, and scheduled to call around noon. The next cruise call was to take place in five days.

Bodø, Oslo, Stavanger, Ålesund

According to Norwegian radio station NRK, the ports of Bodø, Oslo and Stavanger are implementing regulations in line with Bergen's. NRK noted the ban on shore visits also applies to the crew.

Late Wednesday Ålesund suspended shore visits until May 1. At Ålesund, Hurtigruten passengers traveling in transit are not allowed to go ashore, while liner passengers traveling to or from the port are permitted to embark or disembark.

No general ban

Currently there is no general ban on cruise ship passenger shore visits in Norway, although some politicians are asking for it. Ports take decisions individually, and several important destinations such as Flåm have said they are continuing to follow the situation. The same goes Haugesund, which continues to welcome passengers.

Princess Cruises voluntarily suspends fleet operations for 60 days

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All 18 ships in the Princess fleet will halt operations until May 10

Voyages departing March 12 to May 10 are impacted.

'It is widely known that we have been managing the implications of COVID-19 on two continents,' President Jan Swartz said. 'By taking this bold action of voluntarily pausing the operations of our ships, it is our intention to reassure our loyal guests, team members and global stakeholders of our commitment to the health, safety and well-being of all who sail with us, as well as those who do business with us, and the countries and communities we visit around the world.'

Princess carries more than 50,000 passengers daily, from 70 countries.

Sailings to end within next five days will complete the cruise

Those currently aboard a cruise that will end in the next five days will continue to sail as expected through the end of the itinerary so that onward travel arrangements are not disrupted. Current voyages that are underway and extend beyond March 17 will be ended at the most convenient location for guests, factoring in operational requirements.

Princess said it will do everything possible to return each guest home with the greatest amount of care possible. During this time, the line said its operations and medical teams across the fleet will remain vigilant in their care and service for all those on board.

Back in operation May 11

Princess aims to be back in operation with cruises departing May 11.

Future cruise credit

For those who are impacted by this decision, Princess is offering the opportunity to transfer 100% of the money paid for their canceled cruise to a future cruise of their choice. As a bonus, the company will add an additional generous future cruise credit which can be applied to the cruise fare or on-board expenses.

In addition, Princess will honor this offer for those passengers who had made final payment and canceled their booking on or after Feb. 4. The future cruise credit can be used on any cruise departing through May 1, 2022.  

Princess will protect commissions on bookings for canceled cruises that were paid in full and for the total amount of the future cruise credits.

Cash refund

If the future cruise credit option does not work for some travelers, they will be able to complete an electronic form on Princess.com to request a cash refund. Princess asked people not to call the reservations center at this time due to high call volumes and the potential for long wait times.

Guests and their travel advisors will be sent communications on how to manage cancellations and desired compensation. Information and instructions for requesting a refund are available at Princess.com