Cruise restart protocols to go ‘way beyond’ other sectors

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The UK cruise sector is working closely with the government, public health bodies and maritime authorities on restart protocols that will go “way beyond” other sectors, according to Clia.

Andy Harmer, director of Clia UK & Ireland, said a focus on the resumption of air travel and safety measures at airports was being mirrored by cruise lines and ports.

In a column on Travel Weekly’s website, he said: “A lot of work is going on in the background to transform the experience of taking a cruise. The industry is working in collaboration with the government on a ‘door to door’ strategy – from the time of booking through to the passengers’ return home – that will go way beyond protocols in place or proposed for any other travel sector.”

He added: “Clia has been working closely with the Department for Transport, Port Health, Public Health England and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency to develop the roadmap to resumption – what will happen from the time of booking to embarkation at the port, onboard, ports of call, disembarkation and customer follow-up.

“We are also engaged with public health professionals as we review the customer journey, from minimising the likelihood of onboard cases by a screening of each guest before departure, through comprehensive onboard management and repatriation plans should case occur on board.”

Harmer welcomed comments made recently by the prime minister that cruise was a “great British industry” which would be supported by the government “in any way that we can”.

And he said plans for a pan-European framework should pave the way for the sector’s restart, adding: “We expect interim guidance from [joint action scheme] EU Healthy Gateways to be published this week, supporting the resumption of cruise activity in a coordinated way.”

Cunard extends cancellations until November

Cunard extends cancellations until November

Cunard is further extending the cancellation of cruises until November, blaming the continued impact of Covid-19.

Flagship Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will have sailings cancelled until November 1 and Queen Elizabeth until November 23.

The extension follows the sister brand extending its pause in operations until October 15.

Cunard will be communicating with all passengers, and their travel agents, who are booked on affected voyages.

Passengers booked on cancelled cruises will automatically be given a 125% future cruise credit which can be redeemed against any new booking made by the end of December 2021 on any voyage on sale at the time of booking.

Cunard president Simon Palethorpe said: “With many differing restrictions across countries, people’s ability to move freely and safely across borders remains seemingly someway in the distance.

“For Cunard, where we celebrate having a truly international mix of guests and sail all over the world, this becomes particularly impactful. We also need to better understand the implications Covid-19 will have onboard our ships.

“We are therefore working, at the highest level possible, with government bodies, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – the CDC – and Public Health England, as well as the industry collective body – Clia – and other expert medical professionals to review every aspect of a holiday with us.”

He added: “Whilst we have always taken pride in having the highest levels of health and safety we are looking at enhanced protocols across all aspects of ship life and experiences onshore.

“We will only return to service when we have a comprehensive restart protocol with the stamps of approval and accreditation from the most trusted and informed sources.”

P&O Cruises cancels sailings until October

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P&O Iona

Covid-19 has forced P&O Cruises to further extend the cancellation of sailings until mid-October.

The fourth extension of the suspension of cruises until October 15 follows all departures being cancelled in April until July 31.

The latest move comes as the UK line focuses on working in close coordination with all relevant public health bodies to approve further enhancement of the company’s already stringent health and safety protocols.

Departures by P&O Cruises and sister brand were first suspended in mid-March and then again on March 30 as Covid-19 hit the global cruise industry.

Parent company Carnival UK has since announced a series of redundancies.

Passengers booked on the cancelled sailings will receive a future cruise credit, giving an additional 25% on top of the amount paid for the holiday.

P&O Cruises also confirmed that the future cruise credit, which may be held until the end of 2021, maybe put against any holiday on sale at that time.

The credits may also be used to upgrade or for a second cabin for any existing booking and also may be gifted or transferred to someone else. This option will also be available until the end of December 2021.

A 5% deposit is also being introduced for new bookings made by June 29 for 2021 sailings.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “We want to apologise once again to those guests who wait for refunds, particularly at a time of financial constraints, however the new technology we have in place is rapidly improving things though and we continue to make further progress on a daily basis.”

Referring to the latest pause in operations, he said: “As a business, our operational focus is not  ‘when can we resume sailing?’ but is instead ‘how can we develop a comprehensive restart protocol that will keep everyone on board, our crew and guests, safe and well and still give our guests an amazing holiday?’

“We are working with government and industry bodies at the highest possible level, such as Public Health England (PHE) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to review every aspect of a holiday with us and establish a framework of policies and procedures. Our aspiration is to be adopting best practice in managing COVID-19 within the travel industry.

“Unfortunately, as the world continues to adapt to this global crisis, we have made the decision, difficult as it is, to extend our pause in operations for all sailings up to and including October 15, 2020. We are so sorry for the disappointment this will cause too so many of our guests.”

He added: “We have for years had in place many of the protocols now considered advisable for other social gathering venues, such as hand-sanitizing stations and rigorous cleaning and disinfecting procedures.

“We also have for years gone beyond those protocols by having guests complete a health declaration form and having a comprehensive medical facility onboard each ship providing 24/7 medical care and treatment.

“During the recent crisis, we added robust health screening upon embarkation, starting with thermal scanning of guests and crew.

“Along with the rest of the world, we will adapt. We will work closely with medical experts and global authorities to help us determine the best way to move forward while honouring our highest responsibility – the health, safety, and wellbeing of our guests, crew and communities we visit, along with compliance and environmental protection.

“We have always taken such pride in our standards of cleanliness and hygiene before Covid-19, but when we return there will be enhanced protocols approved by the hospitality and national public health authorities.

“This will ensure we continue to have in place high levels of cleanliness across every single aspect of public areas, crew living areas and every item of furniture in cabins and everywhere on board as well as approved safety standards for the service of food and drink; entertainment and experiences onboard and onshore.

“When the time is right, we will be ready to resume our tradition of providing amazing holiday experiences for our guests.”