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Cruises

Seabourn Offers New Early Bonus Savings Through July 2020

Seabourn, a luxury cruise line, is offering an additional 10 percent savings to booked guests who pay in full by July 31, 2020. The promotion applies to select voyages through 2021.

The “Early Bonus Savings” can be combined with other promotions, including the “Sensational Suite Savings” also available through July 2020. That promotion offers veranda suite upgrades, shipboard credits up to $2,000 per suite, air credits, internet packages and more.

“Travelers have been dreaming of their next great adventure for a while now, and many are now eager to plan their next vacation while considering the best value,” said Chris Austin, senior vice president of global marketing and sales for Seabourn.

The company has suspended global operations until October and November, depending on the ship, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The line has updated its “Book with Confidence” policy, allowing customers to cancel their booking up to 30 days before departure on any new bookings and receive a future cruise credit. The updated policy also includes a “Best Fare Guarantee” that lets guests request lower fares if they drop after the reservation is made.The “Early Bonus Savings” is available for select voyages and is not valid on World Cruises or segments and voyages on Seabourn Venture. For a list of applicable sailings and other details, click here.

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Two Carnival Corp. Brands Extend Suspension of Cruising

Carnival Corp. extended the suspension of operations for two European cruise brands – Costa and AIDA – to July 31, 2020.

“The decision is linked to the uncertainty of a gradual reopening of ports to cruise ships and the restrictions that may still be in place for the movements of people due to the Covid-19 global pandemic,” Costa said in a statement.

Costa said it is contacting travel agents and guests affected by the changes. They will be guaranteed a re-protection in accordance with the applicable legislation, which offers the greatest guarantee in this contingency situation.

AIDA Cruises noted that in many of its frequently visited destinations, regulations for international tourism are still being adjusted and the specific conditions for a restart have not been fully clarified yet. To give guests the necessary planning security for their vacation, AIDA decided to extend the temporary break until the end of July 2020.

All AIDA cruises up to and including July 31, 2020, cannot take place as planned. AIDA will reimburse guests in the form of a travel credit with a 10 percent bonus.

The credit can be used for bookings until Dec. 31, 2021, for the complete range of AIDA trips on offer. The credit is also redeemable for MyAIDA services such as excursions, culinary offers and wellness treatments or onboard credit.

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Cruises

Bahamas Paradise Cruises Set to Resume July 25

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line plans to resume cruising with the Grand Celebration July 2 and the Grand Classica Oct. 3 as it rolls out an extensive list of new preventative measures to help ensure the wellness of all those onboard. Among those measures are closing two passenger decks, reducing capacity by 40 percent and extensive sanitation practices.

In addition, the company’s “Cruise & Stay Program,” which lets guests stay in resorts in the Bahamas for up to four nights, will also be available for bookings beginning Oct. 3.

“As things begin to return to normal after months of quarantine, we can all use a quick getaway. When we return, our onboard experience may look a little different to our guests,” said Oneil Khosa, CEO of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line. “The wellness of our passengers and crew members remains our top priority and, as such, passengers can expect enhanced sanitization procedures from embarkation to disembarkation so that they can enjoy a relaxing, safe, stress-free getaway.”

The company operates two-night cruises from the Port of Palm Beach. The new safety protocols include:

—Closing two passenger stateroom decks to reduce crowds onboard the ship.

—Limit the number of in-use staterooms to reduce onboard capacity by 40 percent.

—All guests will be required to practice social distancing from valet parking to terminal check-in.

—All terminal staff members will be monitored and required to wear masks and remain behind safety plexiglass for minimal contact.

—Passenger luggage will be disinfected prior to onboard delivery.

—Mandatory touch-free temperature checks and pre-boarding health declarations for all guests.

—Extensive sanitization and disinfection processes at entry of port terminal, ships, and passenger walkway areas.

—Online check-in for guests, who will receive designated arrival times at the cruise terminal to streamline embarkation and minimize crowds in the port.

—Sanitization of all cabins with hospital-grade disinfectants.

—Fogging of vacant cabins and twice-daily wipedown of hallways.

—Disinfection of guest bathrooms with heavy-duty alkaline cleaner.

—Timely housekeeping cabin turnover with sheets and linens cleaned and disinfected at sterilizing temperatures.

—All onboard public areas will undergo a two-tier sanitization process, which includes cleansing and fogging using hospital-grade disinfectant. Frequency includes elevators every two hours, public areas and facilities up to 10 times per day, frequently touched areas such as handrails, table-tops, and door handles every hour.

—All floors will be disinfected with a heavy-duty neutral PH floor cleaning solution.

—All onboard areas will include fully stocked, self-service hand sanitizer stations.

—All restaurants and bar areas will be cleaned and sanitized three times a day.

—Self-service buffet stations have been suspended; all food and beverage will be served by crew members wearing face masks, hats, aprons, and gloves.

—Tables and seating areas will keep guests six feet apart to facilitate social distancing.

—Stringent procurement guidelines will be enforced, and products from certain regions will be prohibited.

—Theaters will be thoroughly sanitized before and after each show.

—Kids’ Club facilities will be cleaned twice per day.

—Spa and gym areas will be sanitized before and after each use, including common areas within these facilities twice daily.

—Tour buses for excursions will be reduced to 50 percent capacity and sanitized frequently; tour operators will be trained using guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO).

—Casino players per table will be restricted to ensure social distancing and slot machines will be positioned to separate players.

Also, crew members will undergo twice-daily temperature checks, wear face masks and use antibacterial hand soap for at least 20 seconds to sanitize hands.

All food-service crew serving guests in the buffet will be required to wear disposable hats, aprons, masks, and gloves.

Housekeeping and food-and-beverage crew will be required to wear both disposable gloves and masks. The disposal of all gloves and masks will align with the CDC’s guidelines.

All crew members will be required to practice social distancing, and each crew member will be allocated their own cabin.

Isolated wards will be available in the medical center for ill guests or those who are concerned that they have been exposed to COVID-19. Used face masks and protective equipment will be disposed of at designated central collection points, while medical equipment and waste bins will be thoroughly cleaned, disinfected, and washed twice daily with hospital-grade disinfectants.

The ships also will implement a fresh-air ventilation system to ensure healthy air quality in all cabins and common areas. All air filters and cooling coils will be thoroughly checked, cleaned and replaced as needed.

For additional details on the improved health and safety measures, click here.

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Celestyal Cruises Extends Suspension of Operations Until July 30

Celestyal Cruises, which operates in the Greek Islands and the Mediterranean, extended its suspension of sailings until July 30, 2020, due to ongoing travel restrictions and temporary port closures.

The Greek government recently announced that the Greek tourism season will gradually start up again in the next few weeks, with international flights from select countries resuming in July. Celestyal will continue to monitor the phased opening to North American travelers while working closely with the Greek authorities on the development of enhanced health and safety protocols.

“Unfortunately we had to make this difficult decision as a result of the evolving situation in the region in which we operate,” said Leslie Peden, chief commercial officer for Celestyal Cruises. “It’s encouraging to see that Greece is prudently commencing its reopening for international tourism in a phased manner following the country’s globally acclaimed best-practice handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the time is right, we look forward to recommencing our operations and welcoming guests back onboard.”

For named and paid guests impacted by this temporary suspension, Celestyal Cruises is offering a future cruise credit (FCC) valued at 120 percent of the original booking value. Guests will have until the end of December 2021 to redeem their FCC through December 2022. Guests who do not redeem their FCC by the end of December 2021 will automatically receive a full refund upon the voucher’s expiration.

Celestyal will automatically send the FCC directly to guests or their travel advisors so there is no need to call the cruise line other than to rebook.

An updated “Peace of Mind” policy allows guests to change any cruise that sets sail from now through Dec. 31, 2021. This applies to new bookings made until Aug. 31, 2020. As long as the booking is changed at least 30 days before the sail date, an FCC for 100 percent of the value received by Celestyal will be issued. The credit can be used toward any cruise that sets sail through Dec. 31, 2022.

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Hertz Files for Bankruptcy Protection

One of the oldest car rental companies in the US is filing for bankruptcy protection due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

Hertz Global Holdings said in a U.S. court filing on Friday that it voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 reorganization. Its international operating regions including Europe, Australia and New Zealand were not included in the U.S. proceedings.

According to a CBC News report, the company has $19 billion US of debt and roughly 38,000 employees worldwide and is among the largest companies to be undone by the pandemic. The company also runs the car rental brands Dollar and Thrifty.

Hertz had said earlier this month they could avoid bankruptcy if it received relief ffrom the U.S. government. who has started assisting companies as part of an unprecedented $2.3 trillion US relief package.

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Cruises

American Queen Steamboat Company Partners With Ochsner Health

WHY IT RATES: Ochsner Health will conduct assessments of the American Queen, American Duchess and American Countess and will work with AQSC on implementing disease prevention and mitigation strategies. —Janeen Christoff, TravelPulse Senior Writer

American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC), a Hornblower Family Company, is partnering with Ochsner Health by implementing Ochsner’s Safe to Return Employer Solutions to help improve and maintain a healthy and safe return of guests and crew to its paddlewheelers.

Ochsner Health will conduct assessments of the American Queen, American Duchess and American Countess and will work with AQSC on implementing disease prevention and mitigation strategies across the entire AQSC fleet.

Another hallmark of this program is the real-time access to infectious disease experts within the Ochsner Health system should a need arise. AQSC will be announcing details on a healthcare partner for its Pacific Northwest itineraries onboard the American Empress in the coming weeks.

As part of Ochsner Safe to Return Employer Solutions, Ochsner Health will reassess the AQSC vessels on a monthly basis and provide updated recommendations as needed based on scientific data and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations.

As a result of the partnership with Ochsner Health recommendations, AQSC will implement the following actions:

—Offer a Virtual Employer Clinic, powered by TytoCare, so employees and guests, if necessary, can virtually talk to a healthcare professional without disembarking.

—Provide access to infectious disease experts within the Ochsner Health system.

—Utilize Ochsner Health personnel to oversee the pre-boarding screening process and assessments on all itineraries embarking in New Orleans, LA. AQSC will identify healthcare partners for the additional turn ports of call.

—Engage Ochsner Health to conduct monthly assessments of the AQSC health and safety protocols and make adjustments as needed.

“We are thrilled to have this ongoing support from Ochsner Health and their expert-team of providers,” shares John Waggoner, founder and CEO of American Queen Steamboat Company. “By partnering with Ochsner Health, we are able to provide added preventative measures to our already increased diligence in guest and crew safety.”

Along with the Ochsner partnership, AQSC unveiled new health and safety protocols being implemented across all vessels including pre-cruise screenings, crew screenings, updated boarding processes, increased sanitation measures, enhanced technologies and an onboard telehealth capability. Technology highlights include MXP Protect, which incorporates the use of thermal imaging. These new policies and practices will be implemented when AQSC resumes its operations.

Victory Cruise Lines, operated by AQSC, will implement similar health and safety protocols as the AQSC fleet when it resumes its operations on the Great Lakes and Canadian Maritimes.

To ensure the safety and comfort of both guests and crew, AQSC and VCL are staying current with guidance, mandates and public health advancements communicated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United State Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), United State Coast Guard (USGC) and the municipalities each vessel visits.

Below you will find an overview of the new health and safety protocols.

Pre-Cruise Screening

Prior to embarkation, all guests and crew will be required to complete a health and safety questionnaire and a medical travel screening survey. At the pre-cruise hotel, medical personnel will perform a health screening on each guest, including a temperature check, and will deny boarding to anyone that may pose a health risk. The 24-hour window between the pre-cruise hotel stay and vessel embarkation allows the AQSC and VCL crew and guests time to make any necessary adjustments following the pre-cruise screening. No guests or crew will be allowed to check-in directly on the vessel without having completed the above described pre-cruise screenings. Details on each vessel’s onboard sanitation and safety procedures will also be provided to all guests and crew prior to boarding.

Boarding Procedures and Gangway Screening

Once guests and crew are cleared during the pre-cruise screening process, embarkation will be conducted via one controlled access point where thermal cameras will take the temperature of each guest and crew member boarding the vessel in addition to the manual temperature checks completed in the pre-cruise screening. The onboard medical representative will conduct the gangway screening, complete the health and safety survey and provide reports to the Master and each Hotel Director.

AQSC and VCL will require a 24-hour notice for anyone that needs access to the vessel and has not been pre-screened during hotel screening, including guests, crew, visitors and contractors.

Screening and Monitoring During the Cruise

Trained staff will maintain protocols and observe guests and crew for symptoms throughout the voyage. The Master and medical representative will respond to medical calls, practice quarantine procedures and utilize shoreside medical facilities for passenger and crew as necessary. If a guest or crew member has an elevated temperature, they will be evaluated by the medical representative before being allowed to board the vessel. Any guest or crew who has an elevated temperature, shows signs or symptoms of illness or that vessel management feels needs further assessment will be sent directly to a local medical care partner for evaluation and testing. In addition, guests or crew who test positive for any contagious condition will not be allowed to rejoin the vessel.

The vessels’ access points will be monitored and controlled at all times. Utilizing the cutting-edge technology from MXP Protect, AQSC will be able to efficiently and effectively monitor all critical areas of operation with thermal scanning. All guests and crew will be passively monitored by thermal imaging when returning to the vessel in addition to random manual screening. In the event of a confirmed positive case on board, AQSC and VCL will manually screen 100 percent of all individuals coming and going from the vessel.

Onboard and Additional Medical Resources

Through the partnership with Ochsner Health, guests and crew can take advantage of the onsite Virtual Employer Clinic, powered by TytoCare. The Virtual Employer Clinic allows guests and crew to remotely see an Ochsner Health physician without leaving the vessel. In addition, each vessel in the AQSC and VCL fleets carries a certified onboard medical representative to assist guests with urgent medical care, implement quarantine procedures and coordinate shoreside medical assistance. The tele-health capabilities combined with the already onboard medical representative provides guests with a heightened level of onboard care. In an emergency, AQSC and VCL have the ability to quickly transfer guests and crew to emergency medical services ashore by coordinating pick-up at municipal landings and docking facilities.

Cleaning Procedures

Increased sanitation of all contact services such as handrails, tables, chairs, desks, work surfaces, door handles, telephones and elevator controls in both the front and back of house will be conducted hourly with an all-chlorine solution that meets or exceeds EPA standards. All public and crew spaces will be fogged twice daily and multi-purpose disinfecting wipes will be made available in staterooms for all guests.

Restaurant Areas: All self-service buffets are suspended, and waiters will be stationed at buffet stations to serve food to guests. Crew will minimize guest touchpoints by manually entering cabin numbers rather than using guest swipe cards and by replacing all communal items such as salt/pepper pots, sugar bowls and butter bowls with single-serve packets. All tables, chairs and countertops will be sanitized on the hour or when vacated by the guest, and menus will be printed on single-use paper and discarded after each use. All table items will be removed each time a table is vacated. All crockery, glassware and cutlery will be washed even if unused.

Bar Department: All self-service areas are now suspended, and individual bowls of bar snacks will be available upon request. Increased sanitation in accordance with the restaurant guidelines outlined above will also be implemented.

Deck Department: The Chief Officer will arrange for all deck rails, public swimming pools, the gangway and other external hardpoints to be thoroughly sanitized at least every hour when in use, with the gangway sanitation occurring every half-hour when in use.

Shore Excursions and Motorcoaches: A reduced number of guests will be transported on each motorcoach, targeting a maximum 52 percent capacity, to allow for adequate space between individuals. All bus seats, windows and handrails will be sanitized with an EPA-recommended solution each day before the first guests arrive and every hour when in use. Liquid hand sanitation dispensers will be available at the door for all guests. All shore excursions will be conducted within the guidelines of the local municipalities visited.

Staterooms: Cabin staff will clean and sanitize all surfaces of the stateroom and utilize an EPA-approved disinfectant spray, as well as the cutting-edge Protexus Electrostatic Sprayer equipment to fog staterooms daily.

SOURCE: American Queen Steamboat Company press release.

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Temptation Cancun Resort and Desire Riviera Maya Resort to Reopen in June

Original Group will reopen its Desire Riviera Maya Resort on June 4 and the Temptation Cancun Resort on June 10. Its Desire Riviera Maya Pearl Resort will reopen on July 1, and any guests booked at this resort will be transferred to Desire Riviera Maya Resort.

Leading up to the reopening, the resort company will implement new sanitation and safety protocols at all three properties.

“We have spent the last month undertaking preparations and consulting with local and international organizations to make sure our enhanced safety measures are up to the highest standards,” said Rodrigo de la Pena, CEO of Original Group. “We look forward to welcoming back guests and are confident that we will all adapt to our ‘new normal’ with minimal disruptions to the Temptation and Desire Experience.”

Temptation’s Sexy & Sanitized and Desire’s Seductive & Sanitized protocols are detailed on each brand’s website in print and in video format.

The new measures include daily health screenings and temperature monitoring of all employees and guests upon arrival; retraining of all employees on new international health and safety guidelines; staff must wear face masks at all times; guests will be given branded face masks upon arrival for optional use; social distancing markers will be set up in common areas such as the lobby for check-in/check-out, and restaurants and bars will have a 50 percent maximum capacity; pool and beach chairs will be 1.5 meters apart.

Sanitation and cleaning will be enhanced to meet new industry standards and those outlined by the Mexican government. Original Group will also be reinforcing all health and sanitation certifications including, Mexico’s Distintivo H and Cristal International Standards.

The company will also be launching new marketing campaigns for each resort: Temptations “Reloaded, Recharged & Sexier Than Ever” and Desire’s “We are Back and More Seductive Than Ever.”

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Virgin Voyages Extends Suspension of Sailings to October

As a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak worldwide, Virgin Voyages announced it has once again been forced to push back its inaugural season, this time until at least October 16.

According to Cruise Critic, Virgin Voyages revealed that passengers who booked travel on impacted Scarlet Lady sailings would be eligible for a 100 percent refund. To make up for the inconvenience, customers who cancel will also receive a 25 percent future cruise credit.

Travelers who don’t cancel their Virgin Voyages bookings will receive a 200 percent future cruise credit, and those who use the credit to book a new voyage by June 30 will receive up to $500 onboard credit.

In addition, officials from the cruise line said final payments will now be due 60 days before sailing instead of the traditional 120 days for all sailings scheduled to depart through December 16.

Virgin Voyages also updated its cancellation policy to allow impacted travelers to rescind the booking up to 48 hours before departure and receive a 100 percent future cruise credit.

The cruise line’s Scarlet Lady ship was scheduled to be christened in March, but the viral pandemic halted all planned events for the vessel. Officials said the ship’s maiden voyage and naming ceremony have been pushed back to early 2021.

On Wednesday, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings extended its suspension of voyages from July 1 to July 31 for its three brands, which include Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

On the other hand, small-ship cruise operator Windstar Cruises revealed plans to resume operations in September with the Wind Spirit in Tahiti, before gradually returning other ships to service through July 2021.

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Fairmont Mayakoba in Riviera Maya Plans to Reopen in June

WHY IT RATES: Fairmont Mayakoba will continue to provide updates on its reopening plan. —Codie Liermann, Associate Editor

Every day brings new developments related to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), and as we navigate through these uncertain times and challenging circumstances, we do so with the safety of our loyal and valued guests and employees as our highest priority.

Global, national and local authorities continue to issue guidance directed at slowing the spread of the virus – minimizing travel; canceling social gatherings; shutting down non-essential businesses; working / schooling from home; and social distancing.

In response, and to do our part in halting the spread of this virus, we made the difficult decision to suspend hotel operations at Fairmont Mayakoba and temporarily closed as of April 8, 2020, at 3:00 p.m. We are currently planning to reopen on June 16, 2020, and updates will be provided if this date changes.

The suspension of hotel operations includes all guest services and food & beverage venues. A very small group of employees will remain on property to maintain emergency services.

This is a challenging time for our destination and beyond, and our hearts go out to all who have been impacted. We will continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation and stay in close communication with you, our city officials, loyal guests and dedicated employees to ensure that our community is informed, connected and supported through these trying times.

We thank you, our valued partner, for your support as we navigate through this challenging time together. We look forward to resuming operations and welcoming our friends, family and community back to the hotel soon.

If you have questions or concerns, please email Mark Ginna at [email protected]

SOURCE: Fairmont Mayakoba press release.

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More Than 100,000 Cruise Ship Crew Members Remain Stuck at Sea

More than 100,000 cruise ship crew members remain stranded at sea more than two months after the industry temporarily suspended operations due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report by the Miami Herald.

The newspaper’s analysis found that at least 578 crew members of various ships have contracted COVID-19 while at sea and seven have died as a result of the virus.

With the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) banning cruising in U.S. waters through at least late July, many of the stranded crew members aren’t even getting paid. What’s more, unprecedented travel restrictions mean that many of these crew members have no idea when they’ll be allowed to return home.

“Our goal has been to repatriate our crew members as quickly as possible, but that has proven to be much more difficult in recent weeks because of port closures, country closures and global travel restrictions,” Carnival Corp. spokesman Roger Frizzell told the Herald in an email. “As a result, there have been numerous complications and challenges. For example, we have 7,500 Filipinos on our ships in Manila, currently waiting to be allowed to go ashore.”

Meanwhile, MSC Cruises spokesperson Luca Biondolilo said that 95 percent of MSC crew stuck at sea live in countries where borders are still closed. Earlier this month, MSC Cruises CEO Gianni Onorato told employees that the company plans to sail its North American ships to Europe so it can fly crew home.

“Getting all of our crew home safely remains our top priority. So far, we have successfully repatriated over 16,000 crew members, and we are working with governments and health authorities around the world on our plans,” Royal Caribbean Ltd. spokesman Jonathon Fishman told the Herald. “We appreciate our crews’ patience and understanding in this ever-changing global situation.”

One crew member the paper spoke with likened the experience to “prison” while another expressed a “need to go home to work” to support their family.

Disney Cruise Line said it isn’t scheduling crew members who are concerned about working, telling the Herald that its “focus is on the health and well-being of our crew and we have a team working tirelessly to repatriate them.”

“With constantly changing requirements around the world and numerous borders still closed, this has proven to be an extremely complex process. We are using our ships to repatriate crew to Europe and the Caribbean and are continuing to try to arrange charter flights to other destinations,” added Disney spokesperson Kim Prunty.

Despite companies’ efforts, Rockford Weitz, director of the Maritime Studies Program at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, believes the lengthy delay in returning crew members home could have a devastating impact on the industry moving forward.

“[The cruise companies] have to show they are going to have the capability in an emergency situation to get people at scale off of the ship and back home,” Weitz told the Herald. “They have to be able to convince their customers they can find solutions and work constructively with public health authorities. The time for excuses at this point in May, there’s no excuse for not finding the way home.”

For now, many cruise lines remain optimistic about the industry’s future, with some targeting return dates and others outlining their gameplans for surviving an extended pause in operations.

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