Categories
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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Travel

Travel leaders demand the 14-day quarantine scheme is scrapped

As Boris Johnson appeared to concede that travel quarantine would be a “three-week wonder” travel businesses have demanded that the scheme should be scrapped before it even begins.

Leaders of high-profile companies call the plan for 14 days of self-isolation “poorly thought-out, wholly detrimental to industry recovery and more or less unworkable”.

The home secretary, Priti Patel, announced the quarantine scheme on 22 May. From 8 June, almost all arrivals to the UK will be required to self-isolate at home, out of direct contact with family and friends, for two weeks.

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More than 70 travel industry chairs, chief executives and general managers have written to Ms Patel urging the immediate withdrawal of the plan.

The figures include Edward Orr, chair of Mr & Mrs Smith, the hotelier Sir Rocco Forte and Derek Jones – chief executive of Der Touristik UK, which includes Kuoni, Kirker Holidays and Carrier.

The general managers of top London hotels including Savoy. Claridge’s, the Connaught, the Ritz, the Corinthia, and the Shangri-La in the Shard have joined the campaign.

They write: “The very last thing the travel industry needs is a mandatory quarantine imposed on all arriving passengers which will deter foreign visitors from coming here, deter UK visitors from travelling abroad and, most likely, cause other countries to impose reciprocal quarantine requirements on British visitors, as France has already announced.”

“Many people urged the government to impose quarantine regulations during the early phases of Covid-19. Instead, no action was taken and flights from infected countries were allowed to land, disgorging thousands of potentially affected passengers into the wider community.”

Authorities including the World Health Organisation and the UK Department of Health recommend quarantine only in the earlier stages of an epidemic.

But Boris Johnson defended the quarantine policy, telling the Commons Liaison Committee: “The reason we didn’t do it then was because the scientific advice was very clear that it would make no difference to the arrival of the epidemic, or vanishingly little difference to the arrival of the epidemic. It might delay it by a bit but it would still come.”

The prime minister appeared to concede, though, that the blanket quarantine plan would remain in place for only 21 days before it is replaced by a series of so-called “air bridges” – bilateral treaties with popular destinations allowing for the 14-day self-isolation rule to be sidestepped.

Mr Johnson said: “We’ll have to agree them with the other countries concerned but we’ll also have to make progress in attacking the disease. And we’ll have to have evidence that the other countries are in as least a good a position as we are.”

Almost all countries have a far lower rate of infection and number of fatalities that the UK.

One senior aviation figure called the quarantine plan “a three-week wonder”. The self-isolation requirement can be avoided either by the use of the so-called “Dublin dodge,” involving a brief visit to the Irish capital, or by arriving before midnight on 7 June.

British Airways has offered passengers due to fly in from 8 to 28 June the chance to reschedule for an earlier date free of charge.

Labour has welcomed the quarantine plan.

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Travel

Quarantine travel: ‘Scrap the rules!’ Travel firms warn rules must be dropped in letter

Home Secretary Priti Patel announced last week that new quarantine rules for anyone arriving into the UK will be enforced from June 8. The new rules state that anyone arriving into the UK from abroad, except from the Common Travel Area, will be subject to 14 days in quarantine. Anyone caught breaking the rules could face a fine of up to £1,000.

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But now holiday firms, travel chiefs and hotel owners are worried that the rules could have a further detrimental effect on the already battered travel and tourism industry.

Signed by more than 70 travel bosses, a letter has been written and given to the Home Secretary in a bid to scrap the rules.

The letter suggests that the move could “deter foreign visitors from travelling to the UK” and “deter UK visitors from going abroad”.

The travel firms say the sector contributed a staggering £200billion to the UK economy last year – around nine percent of the UK’s GDP – meaning that the rules could have a devastating economic impact on the country.

The letter said: “The very last thing the travel industry needs is a mandatory quarantine imposed on all arriving passengers which will deter foreign visitors from coming here, deter UK visitors from travelling abroad and, most likely, cause other countries to impose reciprocal quarantine requirements on British visitors, as France has already announced.

“Many people urged the government to impose quarantine regulations during the early phases of COVID-19.

“Instead, no action was taken and flights from infected countries were allowed to land, disgorging thousands of potentially affected passengers into the wider community.”

The letter continued: “COVID-19 is now under control and we commend the government for its handling of what was an extraordinary and unprecedented situation.

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“However, the economic cost of the government’s action is yet to be seen, apart from the early indicators which paint a grim picture.”

The letter also stated that the Government had been “woefully slow to react and has procrastinated to the point of absurdity” in offering refund credit notes in the tourism and travel industry.

The letter continued: “Unlike many businesses who can scale down their workforce very rapidly, travel companies still need to employ staff when business stops, either to cancel or rearrange existing, often complex, bookings.

“The government has done its best to suppress and control the invidious viral contagion but it should not, and must not, exceed its mandate.

“The people of this country do not wish to be prevented from travelling.

“Quite simply it is time to switch the emphasis from protection to economic recovery before it is too late.”

George Morgan-Grenville, CEO of tour operator Red Savannah said that the quarantine plans were “poorly thought-out” and detrimental to the industry.

He said: “Signatories to this letter are more used to competing ferociously but, on this issue, we are united.

“The quarantine plans are poorly thought-out, wholly detrimental to industry recovery and are more or less unworkable.”

However, the Home Office said in response that the rules are being put in place in order to avoid a second wave which could be “devastating”.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “As the world begins to emerge from what we hope is the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, we must look to the future and protect the British public by reducing the risk of cases crossing our border.

“We continue to support businesses in the tourism sector through one of the most generous economic packages provided anywhere in the world.

“However, it is right that we introduce these new measures now to keep the transmission rate down and prevent a devastating second wave.”

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Cruises

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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Destinations

US Virgin Islands to Reopen June 1

The U.S. Virgin Islands will reopen to leisure travelers on June 1, the territory announced Tuesday.

Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte said the destination is finalizing public health and tourism protocols to ensure a safe return for visitors. While the islands are preparing to welcome guests back in less than a week’s time, a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic will remain in effect through July 11.

The Department of Tourism has rolled out a comprehensive guide called the “Health and Safety Guidelines for the USVI Tourism Industry” for tourism stakeholders that include proper procedures for operating reception and concierge facilities; cleaning and housekeeping; managing dining rooms and providing technical and maintenance services.

The document, which will be updated frequently, also includes specific guidance for taxi, van, safari and limo services, restaurants, bars and hotels.

“Over the past several weeks, we have been building COVID-19 mitigation and response capacity, and preparing protocols to protect the health and safety of residents and visitors alike,” said Boschulte in a statement accompanying the announcement. “We did not want to rush to reopen in reaction to what other destinations are doing. Instead, we have engaged in data-driven, risk-based analysis, in conjunction with the Virgin Islands Department of Health and federal guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other stakeholders.”

Boschulte also pointed out that the demand for travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands has remained strong in the months since the destination was forced to close its borders due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Throughout the pandemic, we were greatly encouraged by the outpouring of support and expressions of desire from friends around the world to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands,” he added. “Even though COVID-19 caused us to temporarily close our doors, our hearts remained open. We now look forward to welcoming travelers back to their home away from home.”

The U.S. Virgin Islands will be among the first Caribbean destinations to reopen in the wake of COVID-19, with Puerto Rico recently relaxing some restrictions on beaches, restaurants and other amenities. Saint Lucia will also begin welcoming visitors back next week.

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Holiday

Disneyland Part of Governor’s Phase 3 Reopening Plan

Officials in California have announced Disneyland and other theme parks would be part of the third phase of the state’s reopening plan, as businesses welcome guests for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak began.

According to OCRegister.com, Governor Gavin Newsom previously announced a “four-stage road map” to start reopening businesses in California, and there were concerns theme parks would fall into the fourth phase.

California Health and Human Services Agency spokesperson Kate Folmar said Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and other popular attractions would be part of the third stage of reopening.

“Theme parks are slated to open in Stage 3 if the rate of spread of COVID-19 and hospitalizations remain stable,” Folmar told the OC Register. “The California Department of Public Health will issue detailed guidance with suggested modifications for how to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spread when theme parks reopen.”

On Tuesday, Newsom announced that Orange County, where Disneyland is located, and other areas would be approved for “accelerated reopening” and move to phase three of the governor’s plan, despite theme parks being considered a high-risk business.

In addition to limiting the number of people inside the facilities, the state’s health department will also work with theme park employers and employees to develop health and safety protocols.

Earlier this month, Shanghai Disneyland reopened its doors to the public with a stringent new set of rules and regulations to meet health guidelines implemented by the government, such as limiting capacity to ensure social distancing.

In Florida, Disney World officials reached an agreement last week with its employee union on a new set of health and safety guidelines to protect workers from coronavirus.

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Destinations

Dubai Tourism refutes reports on hospitality job losses

Dubai Tourism & Commerce Marketing spokesperson said that the hospitality sector remains ‘healthy’ and will emerge from the Covid-19 stronger than before

“Dubai’s hotel sector is healthy and this prudent approach prepares the industry for an even stronger resurgence post Covid,” the Dubai Tourism spokesperson said.

Dubai Tourism & Commerce Marketing has refuted media reports that approximately 30 percent of workers in the UAE’s hospitality industry are likely to lose their jobs as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Citing statistics from research firm STR Global, Bloomberg reported that 43,000 hotel rooms – approximately a third of the emirate’s total room keys – will remain closed until September.

In an interview with Bloomberg, STR’s Middle East and Africa director, Philip Wooller, said that he estimates that 40,000 people are employed in the hospitality industry, of whom he believes that one-third will lose their jobs.

Dubai Tourism & Commerce Marketing, however, refuted the claims through Dubai Media Office. 

“Contrary to Bloomberg’s assertion, Dubai’s hospitality businesses are resuming operations based on issued government reopening guidelines during this pandemic,” a Dubai Tourism & Commerce Marketing spokesperson was quoted as saying.

Dubai Tourism & Commerce Marketing spokesperson : “Contrary to Bloomberg's assertions, Dubai’s Hospitality businesses are resuming operations based on issued government reopening guidelines during this pandemic.— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) May 20, 2020

“Dubai’s hotel sector is healthy and this prudent approach prepares the industry for an even stronger resurgence post Covid,” the spokesperson added.

“Guided by the expert advice of our team of advisors, we have been gradually restarted various economic sectors and services to ensure continued economic resilience.”

#Dubai's Hotel sector is healthy&this prudent approach prepares the industry for an even stronger resurgence post Covid.Guided by the expert advise of our team of advisors,we have been gradually restarting various economic sectors&services to ensure continued economic resilience.— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) May 20, 2020

Tourism contributed 11.5 percent to Dubai’s economic output in 2019 as 16.7 million tourists visited the city, according to government statistics.

Arabian Business digital magazine: read the latest edition online

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Categories
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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Cruises

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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Travel

Island of Madeira will pay for coronavirus tests for tourists

Portuguese holiday island of Madeira will welcome tourists again from July 1 – and all visitors will be tested for coronavirus for free if they can’t prove they’re negative

  • Tourists will have to undergo the test before they are allowed onto the island 
  • Alternatively, they have to prove they’ve had a negative test in the past 72 hours
  • Madeira’s tourism board says it is positioning itself as a ‘Covid-safe destination’ 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The Portuguese holiday island of Madeira has announced it will pay for all tourists to have a coronavirus test on arrival.

The archipelago, along with its sister island Porto Santo, is set to open to international travellers again from July 1.

But to be allowed in, tourists will either have to present documentation showing they’ve had a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours prior to arriving in Madeira or show they’re in the clear from a free test administered upon arrival. 

The Portuguese holiday island of Madeira, pictured, has announced it will pay for all tourists to have a coronavirus test on arrival

According to the Madeira tourism board, the islands are focusing on positioning themselves as ‘Covid-safe destinations’ and are working with SGS, the ‘world leader in hygiene certification’, to ensure ‘good practice across the destination to minimise risk in the wake of the pandemic’.

It adds that Madeira was a pioneer in Portugal in ‘developing good practices to deal with Covid-19’.

In a statement, the tourism board said: ‘These three initiatives, to cover testing costs, partner with SGS in certification and develop a good practices document, underpin the destination’s determination to ensure a safe tourism location for all visitors.

‘The Portuguese outpost of Madeira has had very few cases of Covid-19 and acted quickly to control the virus on the archipelago (Portugal has been widely praised for its rapid response).

At present, Madeira has registered 90 cases of Covid-19 with 67 of them in patients who have recovered. There have been no deaths

‘It is an island in the Atlantic, with relatively low visitor and transit numbers, which makes Madeira an exceptionally safe holiday option.’

Madeira is a short-haul destination from the UK with a flight time of three and a half hours. Its sub-tropical climate means it is warm all year round.

Outside of the capital, Funchal, the island is sparsely populated and its striking and lush landscape has been classified as a Unesco World Natural Heritage site since December 1999.

The tourism board added: ‘A gentle, safe, and relaxing destination, with excellent healthcare facilities. Madeira has been popular for centuries with UK travellers, who have visited these average climes to optimise health and wellbeing.

‘Recently referred to as Europe’s adventure capital with numerous world-class outdoor pursuits, from canyoning to trail running, it is perfect for those who have increased their fitness levels during lockdown.

Madeira’s sister island of Porto Santo, which is also set to open to international tourists on July 1 

‘Porto Santo, the stunning beach island off Madeira, only two and half hours away by ferry, was the first beach in Europe to officially reopen after Covid-19 and has the added benefit of therapeutic sands – with scientifically proven properties to ease all manner of ailments.

‘There are currently no restrictions to travel between the two islands.’

At present, Madeira has registered 90 cases of Covid-19 with 67 of them in patients who have recovered. There have been no deaths.

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