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As river cruise lines update their cancellation policies in response to the coronavirus, we have compiled the most up-to-date list of what they are all doing.

While most of the lines are adhering to the latest World Health Organisation’s advice, and recommended policies from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), they still vary in terms of their individual cancellation policies.

So, whether you’re currently booked on a river cruise and are considering postponing your tip – or perhaps you’re still considering making a booking from scratch, the following list will give you an idea of who’s doing what and exactly what your options are.

APT Touring

We have adopted the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) recommendations and have increased our health screenings and protocols for all our cruises, both on board and prior to boarding for all passengers and crew, working with the local authorities as well as our own staff to ensure this is being adhered to.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely as it is constantly evolving, and we would like to reiterate that every decision we make is in the best interests of our travellers.

Cancelled Tours
At this stage we have cancelled our tours into China and South Korea until the end of June.

Disrupted Tours
Current touring in Egypt is not affected however Israel requires a 14 day period between visiting Egypt and entering Israel. For this reason the Israel portion of the itinerary has been cancelled. Future tours up until the end of March where Israel is included within the itinerary will have the Israel portion cancelled. Egypt and Jordan tours are operating as scheduled with enhanced hygiene protocols.

Italian touring commences from May 2020 and at this stage are operating as scheduled. Further updates will be provided closer to the time of travel.
All other global touring and cruising activity is operating as scheduled.

Deferral and Cancellation Policies
In addition to these measures we have made the decision to extend the terms of our deferral policies and fees, effective immediately. The below excludes Tailor Made Holidays.

Deposited Bookings Travelling in 2020 – we are offering deposited guests the temporary option to change dates for travel in 2020 to later in 2020 or 2021, postpone or change their travel destination up to 100 days prior to departure with a $250 deferral fee per person. Additional airfare and third party fees may apply. Clients who purchased our Deposit Cancellation Peace of Mind Policy at time of booking will not be charged the deferral fee  (excluding 3rd party fees such as airfare).

Fully Paid Bookings Travelling in 2020 – departing 100 to 31 days from date of travel – we are temporarily offering the option to change dates for travel in 2020 to later in 2020 or 2021, postpone or change travel destination with a $1000 deferral fee per person applied. Additional airfare and third party fees may apply. Cancellation or Deferment within 30 days of travel will incur 100% cancellation fees.

Cancellation of Booking – normal Terms and Conditions apply

Avalon

In response to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak and the subsequent local government warnings to avoid all travel to China and the regions of Veneto and Lombardy in Italy, Avalon Waterways has instituted a travel policy relating to travel to and through these areas to help ensure the health and safety of our guests.

As a result, we have temporarily suspended the operation of China through June, 2020. Avalon Waterways also has additional itineraries that include Italy that have been modified relative to these travel restrictions, and are in contact with guests affected by these changes and/or cancellations in order to adjust their travel plans.

As an added precaution for the health and safety of all of our guests, prior to joining your holiday, we are asking all guests to acknowledge if they have travelled from/visited or transited through China, including Macau, Iran or travelled from/visited Hong Kong, South Korea, or quarantined towns in Veneto and Lombardy within the 14 days prior to the start of their holiday. If a guest does not meet this requirement, they will not be allowed to travel on any Avalon Waterways cruises.

Additionally, some governments have implemented wider restrictions that limit the arrival of travellers who have travelled from/visited or transited through countries beyond those currently within the Avalon Waterways policy above. We recommend that you check the current travel policy of your final destination for further details

We continue to monitor the situation closely to determine if additional modifications and updates are needed in accordance with local and international travel advisements and policies.

For questions, updates or booking inquiries, contact 1300 920 857 in Australia.

Crystal Cruises

Effective immediately and until further notice, Crystal has established a new cancellation policy applicable to all Crystal experiences, which previously began at 120 days or earlier. Guests may cancel up to 7 days prior to first service and receive a 100% credit for cruise fare monies paid that may be redeemed on any future voyage through the end of 2022.

First service refers to any pre-cruise product such as hotel or land programs booked prior to the voyage. If no such service was booked, it refers to the departure.

For all new bookings, Crystal has established a new reduced deposit policy for Crystal voyages, which was previously 25% of the cruise fare. New reduced deposit amounts are:

•$100 per person for cruises of up to 13 nights;

•$200 per person for cruises of 14-21 nights;

•$500 per persons for all river voyages.

For all existing and new bookings for all Crystal experiences, final payment will be reduced from 120 days or earlier to 90 days prior to first service.

*Terms and Conditions below:

– Standard cancellation penalties will apply to insurance and Personal Select Air.

– Pre and post packages will mirror the updated cancellation penalties.

– Port charges, taxes, and fees paid will be refunded.

– Credit may be applied to new bookings or existing bookings that have not been final paid.

– Credit may not be used for initial deposit, split over multiple bookings and there is no refund value.

– Credit must be applied by 12/31/2020 to a booking departing by the end of 2022.

– Credit will be posted to the guests’ profile within 30 days.

– New deposit, final payment and Crystal cancellation policies do not apply to charters.

Scenic

Scenic has announced a new cancellation policy which will take effect immediately across the company’s portfolio of brands.

The policy provides all currently booked guests with a departure on or after June 1, 2020, and guests considering a booking after that date, the option to transfer their booking to an alternate departure without penalty*, up to 30 days prior to departure.

This allows guests more time to make decisions about future travel plans. This policy will apply to all brands with the Scenic Group: Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, Emerald Cruises, Scenic Eclipse, Evergreen Cruises & Tours and Mayflower Cruises & Tours.

Some governments have implemented wider restrictions that limit the arrival of travellers who have travelled from/visited or transited through countries beyond those currently within the Scenic Group policy as outlined above.

We recommend that you check the current travel policy of your final destination with local government authorities within your region for further details.

Uniworld

We are closely monitoring the coronavirus (Covid-19) developments and will continue to prioritize the safety of our guests and crew. We are aware of the latest travel advisories issued by government agencies and are monitoring all updates issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centres for Disease Control (CDC).

Precautionary Measures
We have always employed stringent safety and sanitation protocols on each and every one of our ships, and we will continue to do so (with special measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19). We follow the recommendations from CLIA for onboarding procedures, requiring all persons boarding the ship (including guests, crew, service providers, local guides) to complete a questionnaire before entering. Anyone who has been to mainland China, South Korea, Iran or any municipality in Italy subject to quarantine measures by the Italian government within 14 days of the beginning of their trip will not be permitted to embark on any Uniworld ship. Anyone who has had close contact with or helped care for anyone suspected or diagnosed with Covid-19 within 14 days of embarkation will not be permitted onboard.

To help alleviate the uncertainty our guests may be feeling about their upcoming cruise, we have released a temporary update to the terms of our cancellation policy for all 2020 cruises to allow our guests more time to make a decision about their travel plans. Guests can cancel up to 14 days prior to their cruise and receive a Future Cruise Credit for the penalty amount incurred at time of cancellation, or they can rebook any 2020 cruise without penalty. Non-penalized amount will be refunded at time of cancellation. Guests also have the option to rebook with one of our Travel Corporation sister brands for 2020 or 2021. Exception: Published cancellation policies will apply to cruise/tours booked for Oberammergau.

At Uniworld, we have always been committed to embracing diversity and inclusivity across all our brands. We do not support any inappropriate mistreatment of any individual, regardless of their nationality, race nor gender. Our onboard and onshore personnel remain committed to delivering the best vacation to each and every customer, regardless of where they come from.

Viking:

Please log onto www.MyVikingJourney.com for details regarding your specific voyage.

Should changes be required, Viking will notify guests on affected sailings directly.

At Viking, the safety and security of our guests and employees is always our top priority.

We continue our enhanced health screening procedures for all guests and staff. This includes:

  • Completing a health care questionnaire before boarding our vessels; guests who have traveled from or through mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau within 14 days of beginning their trip with Viking, will not be permitted to embark any Viking ship.
  • Conducting temperature checks of all guests and employees prior to embarkation; no one exhibiting symptoms of respiratory illness similar to those of COVID-19 are be permitted to board.
  • We continue to reiterate the importance of individual hygiene, sanitizing and washing of hands.

At this point, there have been no confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 among any guests or crew across the Viking fleet. All of our ships have received a clean bill of health from every port in which they have docked and our vessels are regularly checked by independent health regulators.

We continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely including the travel advisories issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) in Australia and Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade (MFAT) in New Zealand and the World Health Organization in Switzerland.

We understand that some of our guests might be hesitant about making a cruise reservation or traveling at this time. The temporary Viking Risk Free Booking Policy allows guests to change or cancel their cruise date up until 24 hours before their planned departure is still valid. This policy covers all Viking reservations that are made by April 30, 2020.

This temporary exception to our standard booking terms is applicable to two groups of guests:

  1. All guests with reservations made prior to March 8, 2020, inclusive of all itineraries and years of departure.
  2. All guests who make a NEW reservation through April 30, 2020. This includes reservations for all departure dates and products currently available for sale.

Those who are covered by the temporary exception to the standard booking policy can change their cruise date or cancel their cruise at any time up until 24 hours before their planned departure, without incurring fees. In either case you will be issued a voucher for future travel valid for 24 months, which can be used on a new reservation for any river, ocean or expedition cruise.

  • Notification of intent to change or cancel your cruise reservation must be received as follows:
  • If you have flights arranged by Viking, it must be received at least 24 hours prior to the time of your flight’s departure.
  • If you have arranged your own flights, it must be received at least 24 hours prior to the time of embarkation of the cruise or your hotel check-in, whichever is first.
  • All change or cancellation fees incurred will be reimbursed in the form of a Future Cruise Voucher.
  • Future Cruise Vouchers may be used toward a new reservation for any future river, ocean or expedition cruise and will be valid for 24 months from issuance.

Still want more information?

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has issued a statement suggesting new precautions will be announced this week.

“In addition to measures already in place, the cruise industry has committed to do even more to protect guests, crew and the communities where ships sail”, said the statement.  “CLIA expects to report back this week with further details of this enhanced approach to protecting public health.”

Smartraveller, the site which gives official travel advice to Australians, says: “We are monitoring closely the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its implications for overseas travel. Many countries are now reporting cases.Many are introducing new entry restrictions. These are changing often and quickly.

“Disruptions to cruise ship itineraries due to COVID-19 can have significant consequences for Australian travellers. We advise you to reconsider taking an overseas cruise at this time – particularly if you have underlying health concerns.”

“There have been instances of cruise ships being put into quarantine, countries preventing disembarkation of ships or denying entry to ports. The itineraries of a number of cruise ships have changed. Disruptions to cruise ship itineraries due to COVID-19 can have significant consequences for travellers. The situation is fluid and you can expect further disruptions.

“Repatriation from cruise ships affected by COVID-19 should not be relied upon as an option.

If, despite our advice, you proceed with your cruise and you’re concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on your plans, check with your travel agent or cruise company and read and subscribe to our travel advisories for your destinations, including transit locations.”

The site points users to the cruise lines’ own organisation  Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) Australasia’s policies to prevent the spread of the virus, which all CLIA ocean member cruise lines are required to implement.

DFAT suggests checking out Smart Traveller if you are going on a cruise:

Cruise Passenger will keep readers updated with changes to policies and further government issued warnings.