Royal Caribbean reveals numbers seeking refunds

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Royal Caribbean Cruises has revealed just under half of its customers have requested cash refunds for cancelled cruises, with its operations currently suspended through to June 11.

In a business update, Royal Caribbean revealed it was holding $2.4 billion in customer deposits at the end of March and said, as of April 30, “approximately 45% of guests have requested cash refunds”.

The cruise giant is offering clients with cancelled bookings credits for future cruises worth 125% of the price they paid in lieu of cash refunds.

Royal Caribbean reported it started the year “in a strong booked position and at higher prices” than the previous year, but said: “Booking volumes for the remainder of 2020 are meaningfully lower than the same time last year at prices that are down [in] low-single digits.”

However, the company described booking trends for 2021 and beyond as at “more typical levels”, reporting: “The booked position for 2021 is within historical ranges . . . with 2021 prices up [in] mid-single digits compared to 2020.”

Royal Caribbean confirmed it continues to take future bookings for later this year, 2021 and 2022 and to “receive new customer deposits and final payments on these”.

Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean chairman and chief executive, said: “Travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders have severely impacted our operations.

“We are taking decisive actions to prioritise the safety of our guests and crew while protecting our fleet and bolstering liquidity.”

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He reported: “The company’s fleet is now either in port or at anchor and we have developed strict protocols to protect our crew still on board ships.”

Royal Caribbean said it was developing “a comprehensive and multi-faceted programme” to address the public health challenges posed by Covid-19, including “enhanced screening, upgraded cleaning and disinfection protocols and plans for social distancing”.

Chief financial officer Jason Liberty reported the company had also undertaken “significant cost-cutting, capital spend reductions and other cash conservation measures” and said: “We continue to evaluate all options available to us to further enhance liquidity.”

The company had $2.3 billion in cash and cash equivalents available to it at the end of April and increased its secured credit facility on May 4.

Royal Caribbean’s ships “are currently transitioning into various levels of layup, with several ships transitioning into a cold layup, further reducing operating expenses”, he said.

The company has laid-off about one-quarter of its 5,000 US onshore employees and identified $4.4 billion in savings on capital expenditure this year and next.

This will see the deferral and delay of planned ship deliveries.

However, these measures have still left Royal Caribbean with operating expenses of $150 million to $170 million a month and total monthly expenses, including interest and debt payments, of up to $275 million.

Coronavirus: Cruise lines cancel and change itineraries amid mounting travel restrictions

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Quantum of the Seas

Cruise lines have responded to a wave of travel and entry restrictions from countries across southeast Asia by cancelling and changing itineraries amid the coronavirus outbreak. Harry Kemble rounds up all the latest developments.

Royal Caribbean International has cancelled two Quantum of the Seas sailings departing from Singapore on February 15 and February 24.

Affected passengers have been given full refunds, the line said.

A Royal spokesperson added: “Royal Caribbean’s number one priority is ensuring the health and welfare of our guests and crew.

“We will continue to monitor conditions and will share other itinerary adjustments should they become necessary.

“The Singapore market remains of great importance to us and we look forward to returning there very soon.”

Royal Caribbean Cruises has lifted its ban on passport holders from China, Hong Kong and Macau after adopting the controversial policy last week.

A statement from Royal Caribbean Cruises, parent of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea confirmed the reversal on Tuesday.

Every passenger who has travelled from, to or through mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau 15 days prior to the departure date is still banned from boarding any of Royal’s vessels.

Norwegian Cruise Line has pulled its entire Asia programme for the newly refurbished ship, Norwegian Spirit.

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Norwegian Spirit with its new hull design.

All sailings between 15 and December 7 have been dropped and full refunds are being offered, along with 10% future cruise credit.

The line also said it would cover up to $300 per person for any air change fees.

“While it is always our intention to maintain original itineraries, at times, unforeseen circumstances require us to make modifications,” the line said. “We appreciate our guests’ patience during this time.”

Celebrity Cruises has cancelled Celebrity Millennium’s sailing departing from Hong Kong on February 15 and altered two Celebrity Constellation itineraries to avoid Singapore and Thailand.

Constellation will spend more time in Cochin, Goa and Mumbai, instead of calling into Phuket, Thailand.

Cunard ship Queen Mary 2 is to miss several ports in southeast Asia and will sail direct to Fremantle, Australia, during its world cruise.

The vessel had been scheduled to call into Phuket, Thailand; Pulau Penang Island and Klang in Malaysia; Singapore; and Hong Kong.

Cunard said the “various travel and entry restrictions…are increasingly impacting ship itineraries and connecting travel” across the world.

Holland America Line (HAL) ship Westerdam was stopped from docking in Laem Chabang, Thailand, a day after the ship had been diverted from Japan.

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Holland American cruise ship Westerdam who got turned away from Thailand yesterday (Tuesday)

On Tuesday, HAL said: “We are actively working on this matter and will provide an update when we are able.”

Princess Cruises on Wednesday confirmed a further 39 passengers onboard Diamond Princess tested positive for coronavirus. The total has now risen to 174 confirmed cases out of 3,700 passengers and crew on board.

The ship is the largest centre of cases outside China.

P&O Cruises is removing calls into Shanghai on March 5-6 and Hong Kong on March 9-10 as part of Arcadia’s world cruise and will announce alternative ports “as soon as possible”.

The UK line said: “We are very closely monitoring and assessing the impact of the latest developments and health advisories, as well as various travel and entry restrictions which are increasingly impacting ship itineraries and connecting travel.

“We are actively seeking to mitigate these risks to our guests and crew, and are making appropriate adjustments to our operations to protect all onboard our ships.”