Levine: ‘Support the Survival and Prosperity of the Cruise Industry’

Port of Miami

The future of Miami is tied to the future of the cruise industry writes Phil Levine, the former mayor of Miami Beach and president and CEO of Royal Media Partners in an opinion article in the Miami Herald.

Levine wrote that the cruise companies have provided Florida with more than 154,646 jobs, $7.7 billion in wages and more than $8.5 billion in direct spending. It has brought economic opportunities to thousands of families in Florida as well as small and large businesses, in addition to charities and foundations.

He sees a collective future, that the industry must be supported and encouraged to survive and prosper not just for its own sake but for the sake of everyone who relies on it.

Royal Media Partners provides customized port shopping services for the cruise brands of Royal Caribbean Cruises sailing in the Caribbean, Bahamas, Europe, Mexico and Alaska.

Vouchers replace refunds across Europe

Gift Vouchers - Global Independent Travel Centre

Travel companies in Europe’s major outbound markets are being forced to flout Package Travel Directive (PTD) rules on consumer refunds or face financial ruin with all short-term bookings cancelled.

Tour operators and travel agents are looking to replace refunds with vouchers or refund credit notes, and the governments of Italy, France, Belgium and Denmark have already confirmed vouchers will suffice in place of cash refunds despite the PTD requiring consumers be refunded within 14 days.

Lawyers point out consumers are unlikely to be able to recover money through the courts as legal systems across Europe are barely functioning amid the coronavirus lockdown.

Leading UK industry lawyer Stephen Mason, senior counsel at Travlaw, said: “Refunds are due for cancelled holidays but nobody can afford to pay them and suppliers are not giving money back.”

He told an International Travel Law Network video conference this week: “The advice we’re having to give [industry] clients is not so much what the law says but solutions that might work in the real world regardless of whether it’s the strict letter of the PTD.”

Klaus Siebert, the partner at law firm Engels-Siebert in Dusseldorf, said: “In Germany, the PTD means the tour organiser would have to pay back within 14 days.

“But what happens now in Germany is that all tour operators and cruise companies simply offer credit refunds – future credits or vouchers – with different validities, from up to the end of the year to up to December 2021.

“Of course, consumer associations say this is not compliant and there needs to be paid in 14 days.

“The German travel association is discussing this with the government and the government has called on the EC to say ‘Bring out guidelines’.”

Siebert said: “We know certain countries – Italy, France, Belgium, Denmark and others – have put in place a voucher solution.

“In Germany, that is still not in place but all the actors in the market work with a sort of voucher solution. There is no one paying back [money].”

Micheal Wukoschitz, of CKW Lawyers in Vienna, said: “In Austria, it’s the same. All my clients try to offer vouchers to customers, sometimes with some add on.

“But no traveller can be forced to accept such a voucher because of the PTD.

“Austrian travel associations are trying to get some sort of solution like the Italian or Belgian system, but there is great opposition from consumer associations and I don’t think the industry will succeed in getting an exemption.”

However, Wukoschitz said: “At the moment the court system isn’t really working. All court hearings are cancelled or delayed. So if a traveller filed a lawsuit now it would take a lot of time for judgment.”

Mason agreed, saying: “That is similar to the UK. The court system is not really functioning so for consumers to enforce their rights is difficult, and by the time they can enforce their rights holidays may have started again.”

Crystal Cruises’ new adventure ship emerges from the shipyard

Image result for crystal endeavor

The latest Crystal Cruises’ adventure ship Crystal Endeavor has been rolled out of a German shipyard eight months before it is due to enter service.

The 200-passenger polar class expedition vessel touched water for the first time at the MV Werften yard in Stralsund.

The all-suite ship is due to set off on its first cruise from Tokyo on August 10, 2020.

Crystal Endeavor will feature helicopter pads and a submarine capable of carrying seven passengers 980ft underwater.

Other facilities include chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s Umi Uma & Sushi Bar; a spa and fitness centre; mud rooms and a helicopter lounge.

Itineraries are available until early 2023 range from the Arctic, Antarctica and Australia to Africa, Europe and Indonesia.

Crystal Cruises’ president and chief executive Tom Wolber said: “Each milestone marked in the journey to introducing Crystal Endeavor to the world becomes more thrilling, as we know that the most adventurous luxury travellers are eagerly awaiting the unforgettable experiences that lie ahead, just as we are.