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Travel

TUI travel advice for holidaymakers with flights booked in July, August and September

TUI is a popular holiday company to travel with among many British jet-setters. However, the UK tour operator’s services have been forced to temporarily pause amid the coronavirus pandemic. Many Britons who have trips booked with TUI are concerned about how the fallout from the virus will affect their summer holidays.

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What is the latest travel advice regarding TUI bookings for July, August and September?

TUI explains on its website that it’s had to follow the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s advice against all but essential travel.

As a result of this, TUI has suspended all package holidays and cruises and will not be resuming operations until mid-June.

A TUI spokeswoman told Express.co.uk that holiday departing after June 12 will go ahead as planned.

However, if your holiday falls into the below categories, your holiday will no longer go ahead as planned.

• TUI holidays travelling on or before June 11 2020

• Marella Cruises sailings on or before June 30 2020

• TUI River Cruises sailings travelling up until and including November 25 2020

The TUI spokeswoman said: “Our holidays departing after 12 June 2020 are currently due to operate as planned, so we ask all customers to make their balance payments as normal.

“We appreciate that customers may be feeling apprehensive about paying their final balance, so we’d like to reassure them that all of our package holidays are ATOL protected, so they can pay the balance with confidence.

“If the holiday has to be cancelled, a refund credit incentive or cash refund option will be given.

“For customers travelling after 12 June 2020, we have extended our flexible amends programme until 11 July, so customers with bookings between 12 June and 11 July can amend to another date for free”.

Like many other operators, TUI is offering a refund credit for those whose holidays have been affected.

TUI explains: “If your holiday can no longer go ahead as planned, you’ll receive a refund credit for the full value of your holiday, and we’ll give you a separate booking incentive up to 20 percent.

“We understand that you may not be ready to book again just yet, so the refund credit gives you the flexibility to book your travel in future.

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“Plus, if your original booking was for a package holiday, you’ll get a separate booking incentive up to 20 percent.

“You will receive a separate email four weeks from your original departure date with all the relevant information.

“Also, if your original booking was part of a package, your refund credit will carry the same ATOL protection.

“And, if your Marella Cruises or TUI River Cruises booking was cabin-only, or sailed from a UK port, your refund credit is protected under the ABTA bonding scheme.

“You can therefore be confident that you have financial security.”

As for refunds, TUI states: “If you’re unable to accept a refund credit you can apply for a refund; due to the volume of holidays impacted, we’re asking you not to contact us until you receive your refund credit so we can continue helping customers in date order.

“However, if you do need to request your refund before this you can do so using the details below. Please be aware that our call centre teams are incredibly busy, so call waiting times are considerably longer than usual. You can call 0203 451 2868 between 9am and 7pm from Monday to Friday.”

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Travel

Ryanair travel advice for holidaymakers with flights booked for July, August and September

Ryanair is a popular airline of choice for British travellers heading off on their summer holidays. However, with coronavirus bringing travel to a standstill, holiday plans have been thrown into chaos. What is the latest travel advice for holidaymakers with Ryanair flights booked through to September?

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Ryanair is currently operating less than one percent of its aircraft.

The budget airline has had a limited schedule in place for many weeks.

London flights are currently only flying to Dublin, Eindhoven, Lisbon, Cork, Berlin and Budapest.

Birmingham, Edinburgh, Bristol and Manchester are flying to Dublin.

Minimum flight links have remained open for emergency reasons but the overwhelming majority of aircraft have been grounded.

At the end of April, this was extended until Thursday May 14.

However, in Ryanair’s most recent update – issued Friday May 1 although not published to its website – the airline revealed flights would not be returning to normal until after June.

They also anticipate a dramatic reduction in the number of plane passengers.

“Due to Continent-wide EU Government flight restrictions, Ryanair expects to operate less than one percent of its scheduled flying program in Apr, May & June 2020,” said the airline in a statement.

“Q1 traffic of fewer than 150,000 passengers will be 99.5 percent behind the Q1 budget of 42.4m passengers.

“While some return to flight services is expected in the second (July-September) quarter, Ryanair expects to carry no more than 50 percent of its original traffic target of 44.6m in Q2.

“For the full year ended March 2021, Ryanair now expects to carry less than 100m passengers, more than 35 percent below its original 154m target.”

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What’s more, under new plans, up to 3,000 Ryanair pilots and cabin crew are set to lose their jobs. Pay cuts of up to 20 percent and unpaid leave will also be introduced.

Frustratingly, it is not known what Ryanair’s schedule will look like beyond June.

However, the airline explains that anyone whose flight has been cancelled will have been notified.

Ryanair states on its website: “If your flight has been cancelled you have been notified by email and SMS and given the option to request a refund, rebook or re-route your journey and avail of reasonable care, as applicable.

“Otherwise, your flight is operating as normal.”

For Ryanair passengers hoping to get refunds, CEO Michael O’Leary confirmed on Friday it could take as long as six months for customers to get their money back because of the surge in refund requests the coronavirus pandemic caused.

In their latest refund update, Ryanair has said vouchers and free changes to other flights are being issued for cancelled flights. However, those who wish for a cash refund will only receive it “once this crisis has passed.”

Ryanair passengers will be able to exchange vouchers for cash after a 12 month period if they have not redeemed them in this time.

Express.co.uk has contacted Ryanair for further comment.

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Travel

WATCH: Shocking moment two planes smash into each other amid violent storm in viral video

Two Qatar Airways planes have been filmed in a dramatic plane crash. The incident took place at Hamad International Airport in Qatar. The airline has been one of the few long-haul airlines to continue flying many of its regular routes during the pandemic.

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Footage from the hub caught the shocking incident on camera from April 30.

One plane at the Qatari airport was seen slamming into another.

So what happened and what caused the crash?

A big storm in the Middle Eastern country sparked the incident.

As the violent weather battered the airport one of the aircraft broke loose.

Footage filmed during the storm shows the two planes parked next to each other.

As strong winds hit, the plane on the left – a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner – can be seen breaking free.

The Dreamliner can carry up to 254 passengers and weighs a whopping 120 tonnes when empty.

Despite this huge weight, the video shows the aircraft starting to move from the force of the storm.

It then begins to turn on the tarmac.

The plane then turns 90 degrees so its nose is facing the adjacent aircraft.

Although the footage is hard to decipher due to the severity of the storm and the video quality, the loose plane can be seen directly heading for the other.

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The plane rolls forward and collides into the body of the parked aircraft.

Images taken in daylight after the accident depict the extent of the damage.

The front of the Dreamliner is clearly battered from the impact.

However, damage to the aircraft is considered minor, said Qatar Airways.

“During extreme weather conditions, with storms and high winds of 70 knots, a parked Qatar Airways 787-800 (sic) briefly shifted from its chocks and made contact with a QR A350-900,” the airline said in a statement, reported Stuff.co.nz.

“The aircraft had been parked securely and chocked in accordance with AMM (aircraft maintenance manual) guidelines while operations at the airport had been temporarily suspended due to the high winds.

“No passengers or crew were on board at the time and the aircraft suffered only minor damage.”

Express.co.uk has contacted Qatar Airways for further comment.

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Travel

Flights: Experts reveals surprising way you can bag Avios points without even travelling

Flights are often considered the main way to rack up points and miles. However, with all travel paused due to the coronavirus pandemic, this is no longer an option. Nicky Kelvin from The Points Guy UK has revealed an unlikely way Britons can earn Avios points from home during lockdown.

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Kelvin revealed that those keen to build on their points and miles should consider airlines shopping portals.

“If you’re looking to earn points or miles and you ever shop online, signing up for a shopping portal is a no-brainer,” he exclusively told Express.co.uk.

“Airlines offer these online programs, which earn you rewards when you sign up and click through to a retailer from the portal (rather than simply going to a shop’s website directly).”

Shoppers need to be savvy about where they shop, however.

“The number of bonus points or miles you’ll earn depends on the retailer you’re shopping with as well as the shopping portal you use,” Kelvin explained.

“Bonuses tend to be awarded as a multiplier of how many pounds you spend, though some offer a set amount of when you click through a portal to sign up for a specific service.

“Shopping portals are a great way to double-dip, and it’s always worth taking the extra few seconds to sign up and then click through for all your subsequent online shopping sprees.”

So what’s the best way of choosing what to sign up for?

Kelvin advised: “Choose the portal that will earn you points or miles in your loyalty programs of choice, and don’t be afraid to sign up for more than one and compare earning rates at a specific store before you click through.”

Below are the current earning rates for the BA eStore:

White Company – 5 Avios per £

Appleyard Flowers – 20 Avios per £

Soak and Sleep – 8 Avios per £

ASOS – 3 Avios per £

John Lewis – 2 Avios per £

Argos – 2 Avios per £

Apple – 3 Avios per £

Nike – 7 Avios per £

The Body Shop – 6 Avios per £

Just Eat – 2 Avios per £

Union Coffee – 5 Avios per £

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Kelvin also explained that making the most of Amex Offers is another good way to rack up points while in lockdown.

“American Express regularly runs what it calls Amex Offers with a wide range of retailers,” he said.

“With them, you can earn bonus points on your purchases or save money in the form of a statement credit.”

There are many active deals that could prove to be useful at the moment.

“For example, you can get 10 percent back in the form of a statement credit on your next Morrisons food delivery,” pointed out Kelvin.

“Plus, double-dipping could become triple-dipping when you utilise an Amex Offer, purchase through a shopping portal and pay with a credit card.

“In other words, you’ll save money or earn additional points on each of these three.”

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Travel

Wizz Air announce strict new face mask rule for all passengers

Following Wizz Air’s recent announcement that some operations will resume in May, the airline has introduced strict new safety protocols for staff and crew. Both passengers and crew will now be obliged to wear face masks when travelling with the Hungaryl-based airline.

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Along with mandatory masks, the crew will also wear gloves, and distribute sanitising wipes to passengers for personal use onboard the aircraft.

The airline will also remove all onboard magazines from the cabin.

Flights, which will resume on Friday 1 May from Luton, will now feature a brand new safety video which will outline the new hygiene measures onboard.

The new protocols, which have been developed in line with government protocols, will support physical distancing during boarding as well as throughout the flight.

Customers are being asked to check-in for all flights online, and make any additional inflight purchases such as seat upgrades or additional bags, online prior to their journey.

Purchases onboard are “encouraged” to be made using contactless payment, to minimise the need for physical contact.

Airline bosses add that a stringent daily cleaning schedule will remain in place, with the entire aircraft being disinfected overnight.

Owain Jones, Managing Director of Wizz Air UK said: “As we restart selected Luton flights to provide an essential service to passengers who need to travel, our primary concern is the health, safety and well-being of our customers and crew.

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“The protective measures that we are implementing will ensure the most sanitary conditions possible.

“We encourage our customers to watch our new video on how to stay safe when travelling, as well as for more details on our new health and safety measures.”

From 1 May 2020, flights will be departing to many top holiday hotspots.

Destinations on offer include Budapest in Hungary, Belgrade in Serbia; Bratislava and Kosice in Slovakia, Lisbon in Portugal, Tenerife in Spain; and Tel Aviv, Israel.

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There are also eight locations in Romania which include Cluj-Napoca, Constanta, Craiova, Iasi, Suceava, Targu Mures, Satu Mare and Timisoara.

Wizz Air chief executive Josef Varadi told Travel Weekly earlier this week that planes will not be filled to capacity for social distancing.

He said: “The industry will have to address physical distancing.

“In the first few months planes will not be filled.”

It is not yet known if the Foreign and Commonwealth’s (FCO) current travel advisory will be lifted by this time.

At the moment the FCO is advising Britons against all non-essential travel for an indefinite period of time.

The FCO says this is “due to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions.

“All countries may restrict travel without notice.” 

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Travel

Cruise Planners Ranks Number Four on Entrepreneur’s Fastest Growing Franchise List

WHY IT RATES: Cruise Planners continues to grow, adding more than 300 franchises in 2019 alone. —Codie Liermann, Associate Editor

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Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative and the nation’s largest home-based travel agency, announced its ranking within Entrepreneur magazine’s Fastest Growing Franchise list. The brand was notably rated number four on the prestigious list of fastest-growing franchises and the only travel company ranked in the top 20.

The recognition for Cruise Planners highlights the brand’s recent growth with more than 300 franchises added within 2019 and nearly 630 added within the last three years. The company is consistently leading as the nation’s largest travel franchise network of more than 2,500 advisors in all 50 states.

The recent growth signifies the definitive interest in a travel agency franchise investment and the company’s strength and stability over the past 25 years. In addition to being ranked on the fastest-growing low-cost franchise list, Cruise Planners is ranked #46 on Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 list.

“Cruise Planners had its most successful year yet in 2019 and while the industry and world are currently facing unprecedented times, we are looking forward to a prosperous year and are already seeing an uptick in bookings for 2021,” said Michelle Fee, CEO and founder of Cruise Planners. “The industry is resilient and the demand for travel will be strong heading into next year, which creates additional opportunities for our franchise partners. The flexibility of the Cruise Planners home-based model has been favorable for our travel advisors and their clients during this time as they are able to easily stay connected and run their businesses without any delay.”

As independent travel advisors, Cruise Planners franchisees earn money helping their clients plan all types of travel experiences from cruises and land tours to all-inclusive resorts and more. The home-based model provides franchise owners flexibility to run their own travel agency business from anywhere.

Cruise Planners provides its travel advisors with access to award-winning, innovative marketing; cutting-edge mobile technology; dynamic, hands-on training; lead-generating tools, as well as professional coaching and development. The brand has been ranked the No. 1 travel franchise for 17 consecutive years by Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500, the world’s first, best and most comprehensive franchise ranking.

Entrepreneurially spirited individuals with a passion for travel, who are interested in owning a Cruise Planners franchise, can invest in their own business for a low-cost franchise fee of only $10,995.

SOURCE: Cruise Planners press release.

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Travel

Pound to euro exchange rate: Sterling slumps as Europe eases lockdown restrictions

The pound to euro exchange rate suffered a blow this morning after a week of growth in the previous week. Sterling has experienced a series of highs and lows in the past month as the coronavirus pandemic has gained speed, however with the UK’s death toll now climbing ever higher, the GBP has hit another slump.

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The pound is currently trading at a rate of 1.1476 against the euro according to Bloomberg at the time of writing.

Meanwhile, the euro has clawed back some strength, despite EU leaders still butting heads about the best way to cope with the virus.

Michael Brown, Currency Expert at Caxton FX spoke to Express.co.uk to offer exclusive insight on the exchange rate.

He said: “Sterling lost ground against the common currency on Friday, dipping below the €1.14 handle, as the euro found solid support despite yet another failure for EU leaders to agree on a common response to the coronavirus.

“This week, all eyes will remain on the pandemic, particularly the progress of the infection as lockdown measures begin to be lifted.”

After weeks of stringent lockdown, some countries across the EU have already announced a tentative easing of restrictions.

France, Italy, and Spain, three of the countries with the highest number of confirmed cases, are amongst those hoping to relax the current rules in place to try to restart the economy and allow an initial resumption of normal life.

Italy, which has so far seen 197,675 confirmed cases and 26,644 deaths, is set to ease restrictions.

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The Italian Prime Minister told local newspaper La Repubblica that manufacturing could be restarted as early as May 4, but that schools will remain closed until September.

In Spain, residents are now being allowed out of their homes for walks and exercise. Children are also being granted one hour of exercise a day, so long as they are being supervised, between 9 am and 9 pm.

The country’s officials have also suggested ways to reopen beaches, with social distancing measures in place, and is identifying ways to kick-start tourism in the country – though it will be prioritising domestic tourism initially.

Spanish authorities have outlined a three-step recovery plan to help boost the economy in certain regions that rely heavily on tourism.

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A graduated process is being introduced to the Canary Islands, which would first open beaches to locals, and later to people from mainland Spain.

There is a suggestion that foreign visitors, including Britons, will not be allowed to visit until the autumn months.

At the time of writing Spain has more than 226,000 confirmed cases and has recorded 23,190 fatalities as a result.

In France, the government is working to prioritise its exit strategy.

The reopening of schools, restarting public transport and ensuring there is a large enough supply of masks and hand sanitised have been highlighted.

France has seen more than 162,000 confirmed cases and 22,856 fatalities due to coronavirus.

In the UK the government has remained tight-lipped on an exit strategy, with ministers warning Britons that lockdown will not be ending any time soon.

Contrastingly, Nordic countries have eased restrictions already, allowing for small gatherings and outdoor activities.

In Sweden, officials enforced less stringent lockdown restrictions, leaving large parts of society operating as normal, in a bid to maintain social distancing for a longer period of time.

For travellers, the future of holidays remains uncertain, with airlines, tour operators, and cruise providers all extending cancellations and suspensions.

Those hoping to change back their travel money are now faced with fewer options, as many Bureau de Changes remain shut.

The Post Office halted its travel money operations some weeks ago, though customers who purchased a travel money card are able to switch their currency back to GBP and use the card in the UK as they would a normal debit or credit card.

Ian Strafford-Taylor, CEO of Equals (formerly known as FairFX), advised customers to hold off on exchanging travel money for now.

“If they can, holidaymakers might want to keep hold of their currency until their next trip and use it then,” he said.

“For those using prepaid currency cards, they can spend their money back in the UK online or in stores, keep it for their next trip, or change it to a different currency altogether.”

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Travel

Australia holiday hotspots reopen as lockdown restrictions eased today

Western Australia has today announced that they will be relaxing coronavirus lockdown rules by changing certain rules that were put in place.

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Western Australians can now enjoy picnics in the park, fishing, boating, hiking and camping after the state relaxed coronavirus restrictions today.

Variations on these rules range from state to state. The two biggest states New South Wales and Victoria have the strictest lockdown and don’t plan on lifting these measures until mid-May according to the BBC.

However in some states like Queensland from Saturday, people can go shopping again for fashion, have a picnic in the park or go for a swim at the beach.

Residents can do all of these activities as long as it is within a 40 minute drive from home.

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Beaches were never closed but people can now lie on the sand in groups of 10 as long as they observe social distancing.

Western Australia is also joining South Australia in expanding the national two person limit on gatherings to 10 people, but meet-ups still have to be for essential reasons.

This includes weddings which were previously limited to five people.

Premier Mark McGowan said: “The changes are sensible and reasonable, and are designed to provide a high value social impact.

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“Western Australians have done such a great job so far, although these changes are small, I hope it will be of benefit to many Western Australians – they deserve it.”

The state has confirmed a total of 549 coronavirus cases, but only 55 remain alive.

There are currently 16 people in Perth hospitals, including four in intensive care.

Also on Monday, several elective surgeries resumed across the nation.

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For the most part, Australians are still required to stay at home unless they have crucial work, shopping or exercise reasons.

States and territory leaders say there is no fast and easy way to return to a “pre-coronavirus” norm.

Peter Collignon, Australian National University microbiologist told the Daily Mail that the implementation of a staggered return to work would reduce the risk of the transmission on buses and that pubs and hotels may not return to normal until September.

New Zealand will also list some of its nationwide lockdown measures, moving down one level on its alert scale.

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden says there are no undetected transmissions anymore and that the country has “won the battle”.

The deaths of 19 people have been linked to the virus.

Also restrictions on movement in Spain have been eased to allow children outside for the first time in six weeks.

Spain has had one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns but the governments hopes to ease measures further to let everyone exercise outside.

Italy holds one of the highest numbers of deaths linked to Covid-19 in Europe, it reaches nearly 27,000 deaths.

However with the death rate slowly decreasing, the country has now laid out plans on how it will come out of lockdown.

From May 3, people will be allowed to visit their relatives, only in small numbers, and only wearing masks.

People will also be allowed to move around their local area with parks reopening.

Funerals will also be allowed to be held again with a maximum of 15 people.

Services like hairdressers and beauty salons are not due to be open until 1 June.

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Cruises

Cruise: How to plan for a cruise holiday without breaking the bank

Though the cruise industry is currently tight in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, with multiple cruise lines now forced to further suspend sailings, there is some hope for cruise holidays. Despite the CDC’s no-sail ban being put in place until July, and the ongoing pandemic, many cruise enthusiasts have come forward to show their love of the industry and say that they won’t be put off their favourite way to travel.

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In fact, a recent poll by Cruise Critic found that 92 percent of its members said the pandemic won’t stop them from taking another cruise in the future – even if it does mean waiting a little while for the dust to settle.

However, while many of us sit at home during lockdown dreaming of exploring the globe, the economic crisis has put a strain on the purse strings.

Luckily, there are some ways you can save on your next cruise holiday.

“Cruises tend to offer outstanding value when you consider that a similar land-based holiday would often cost a lot more for the same sort of accommodation, food and entertainment package available on a cruise – but there are also a number of great tips and tricks to save a few bucks when booking and while onboard,” Adam Coulter, UK managing editor of Cruise Critic told Express.co.uk.

Often, savings can be made the moment travellers book their cruise holiday with a simple bit of planning.

“It has generally been beneficial to book early,” explains Adam.

“That has often meant booking nine months to a year in advance of your travel dates.

“Cruise lines often offer booking incentives to travellers who book early – perks like cabin upgrades, complimentary beverage packages and onboard credit to use at your leisure while at sea.”

Though this could mean travellers now have a long wait until they next take to the seas, should they want to wait out the pandemic before booking their travels, forward-thinking could really reduce the overall cost of the holiday.

Should the cruise industry pick up again, another tip is to avoid peak seasons.

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“If your off-peak cruise isn’t full and the cruise line decreases fares in an effort to boost bookings, that’s a good time to ask your travel agent or cruise line representative for a free upgrade – especially if you’re not eligible for the price reduction,” Adam says.

“Many experienced cruisers often say that Shoulder Season – a time window that is not quite high season and not quite low season – is the ideal time to take a cruise.

“The key benefit of cruising in a shoulder season is that you can often enjoy similar or slightly more temperate weather from peak seasons in any particular area but without the crowds and the higher prices.

“It also usually means that most children are at back school – so you tend to get a quieter experience both onboard and ashore.”

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However, it isn’t just when you decide to book that can cut costs.

Adele Haywood is a cruise enthusiast who has been sailing since 2016. Since she first took to the seas she has been on 8 cruises with big-name operators including MSC, CMV and Fred Olsen.

When looking for ways to cut costs she found that shopping around and booking through travel agents can also be key.

“My advice would be to shop around!” she advises.

“I personally use a small cruise booking agent to find me the best price, but I do compare myself whether or not it is any cheaper, or anything included if booking directly with the company themselves.

“People think booking directly gives you the better deal, but not always! We tend to shop around on price to give ourselves the best experiences for the area we want to go to (rather than the ship we are on) knowing that overall taking into consideration drinks, excursions and gratuities then the price will go up.”

Furthermore, the type of cabin you opt for can really see the numbers creep up on your final receipt.

Adele continues: “We book, where possible an inside cabin unless there are several sea days. This is because as far as we are concerned the cabin is for sleeping, showering and getting changed.

“You can spend the majority of the day off the ship or in the lounges, and then for your meal and entertainment.

“Some people prefer having a window to look out as they worry they’ll feel claustrophobic, but even inside cabins can feel quite spacious. We’ve travelled from inside cabins to junior suites and they’ve all got their good and bad points.”

It is also important that first-time cruisers do their homework, and are aware of all of the additional extras cruise lines can charge.

Adam points out: “Booking your first cruise can be perplexing. It’s easy to be seduced by cheap cruise offers online but if this is your first voyage, it will really pay off to consult a specialist travel agent to make sure that you end up on the right ship for you.”

One of the major draws of cruise holidays is the ability to take in multiple destinations in one trip, thanks to port days.

However, what some travellers may not realise is that guided tours or on-shore excursions by the cruise line can come at an extra cost.

“If you want to save, skip the shore tour desk, and book independent shore excursions or tour guides (often for less money – or at least the same price for a smaller tour where you get more input),” Adam suggests.

However, seasoned cruiser Adele points out that there are some downsides to this, even if it does mean saving money.

“A lot of people think about excursions, some people are told not to book these directly with the cruise company and find a local tour operator instead,” she says.

“We normally book things directly with the cruise line as if we are late back on an organised excursion, the ship will wait for you (and this has happened!) but if you are using a local operator, they won’t!”

If you do want to arrange your own excursion, then be sure to take note of what time the ship is leaving.

“Look at where you are going in advance,” advises Adele.

“How far from the dock is the town? Is there a free or paid shuttle to get you into the town or can you walk it in?

“Some cities are nice just to have a stroll around on your own. But definitely look over the excursions if there is something of interest.”

There are also ways to save while onboard.

Though cruises are often all-inclusive, alcohol, speciality restaurants and some on board experiences – such as spa treatments – are not included in this offering.

“We always recommend that you purchase your alcoholic or soft drinks beverage packages before you board, if possible,” advises Adam.

“In general, it usually always pays to make this decision before you board – since many packages bought onboard can be up to 40 percent more expensive than those bought before boarding – so decide with your fellow travellers whether this is something you want to invest in before your departure date.”

However, if you are uncertain about whether these packages will be worth the cost, savvy sailor Adele has her own thrifty tips.

“If you search the internet you can generally find a price list of the drinks on your ship,” she explains. “Work out the average cost of the drinks that you consume, and how many drinks you would have to drink per day to break even.

“Are you booking excursions, or spending a lot of time off ship? Then this reduces the amount of time you can have these drinks.”

Adam continues: “In the same vein, if you want to go all out and sample the speciality fee-paying restaurants onboard a few times, book a restaurant package, if available.”

One way to slice the cost of speciality dining in half is to dine on the very first night of the cruise.

“As most passengers tend to use the main dining rooms on the first night, you usually find that onboard speciality restaurants offer some great deals for dining with them instead – such a free wine,” he adds.

Similarly, Adam suggests booking spa treatments on shore days if you want to enjoy a relaxing experience for half the price.

Aside from the costs of goods, many first-time cruisers might not be so accustomed with onboard gratuities.

“These days, most cruise lines add to your cruise bill an auto-gratuity or service fee that covers your cabin steward and dining staff,” says Adam.

“Bar bills often have a 15 or 18 percent gratuity included, as do many spa and fitness charges. Yet, more and more, the slip you have to sign indicates a space for an additional gratuity. You’re always welcome to give an extra tip for outstanding service, but you shouldn’t feel pressured to give more than the auto-gratuity if it’s not warranted.

“Uninformed travellers see the blank line on the bill and add 15 to 20 percent without thinking — and end up tipping double.”

If you do want to pay your tips separately, cruisers are allowed to remove auto-gratuities.

“Different companies have their own gratuity policies. We normally pay them, but they can work out expensively. Some split them equally between all their staff (from the engine room to captain), some only split them between your cleaner and your waiter,” explains Adele.

“Our last cruise, we removed our gratuities for the first time ever and left them a tip ourselves as it was only split between two members of staff.

“If you look into it before you go then make sure you ask on one of your first days on ship to remove the gratuities.”

Though the future of travel is uncertain for now, if you are hoping to cruise in the future now could be the time to begin much-needed research.

Whether it’s saving money when booking, or cutting costs once on deck, the major theme that runs throughout is to plan in advance.

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Sicily set to pay half of tourists’ holiday bills after coronavirus

With Italy gearing up to loosen lockdown, local governments are identifying ways to attract tourism back to the country. Sicily’s regional government has put forward a plan to pay up to half of tourists’ flight costs, as well as footing the bill for one in three of their hotel nights.

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The government will also be freeing up the cost of tickets for museums and archaeological sites.

According to The Times, the scheme will be covered by a €50 million budget after the country faced financial losses due to reduced tourism in March and April.

Vouchers for travel costs are to be made available on Sicily’s tourism website.

Italy became one of the worst-hit places in Europe in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak in the content, causing a rapid decline at what would have been the beginning of the peak holiday season.

Around 13 percent of the country’s GDP comes from tourism, and with lockdown set to be relaxed somewhat on May 4, government officials are looking into ways to increase foot traffic across the country while still employing social distancing.

Italy is amongst a number of European countries, including Spain, which is considering methods of employing social distancing on beaches.

The Balearic islands’ Restauración Mallorca also recently presented an idea for ensuring social distancing while being able to reopen restaurants and bars.

It is likely that other destinations will attempt similar methods once lockdown comes to an end.

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Italy has recently seen a decline in the number of confirmed cases in the region.

On Thursday the number of cases dropped by almost 1,000 to 2,646.

The country reported 420 new deaths on Friday.

At its peak, Italy was seeing more than 900 deaths in one day.

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Though Italy has the second-highest death toll behind the US, it has fallen to the third most infected country, with Spain overtaking, according to the most recent official figures.

Whether Britons will be able to resume travel to the region in time for the summer months remains unknown.

The UK is currently under its own lockdown, set to be reassessed ahead of the May 8 bank holiday weekend.

However, experts have suggested that it may take some time to get the virus under control.

Ministers continue to refuse to answer questions about a certain exit strategy, though they are in private talks about how this may look.

Health Minister Nadine Dorries said: “Journalists should stop asking about an exit strategy.”

Britons are still being told to avoid all but essential travel for an indefinite period of time.

The government continues to work with airlines as part of a £75 million repatriation effort to bring Britons who are stranded abroad back to the UK.

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