It's hard to know who to turn to right now when it comes to getting answers to your burning cruise questions about future cruise credits, rebooking canceled cruises or simply: "When can I sail again?"
Travel agents are on the front lines of the current slate of cruise cancellations and rebooking and know better than anyone what travellers should expect during this uncertain time.
We spoke to Simone Clark, SVP Global Supply at Iglu, to get the answers to some of the crucial questions on cruisers' minds.
- I've got my Future Cruise Credit -- is it valid against any sailing this summer?
- What about the perks I secured on the cruise I originally booked -- will they be transferred on to my next cruise?
- When should I rebook?
- Is now a good time to be looking for bargains in 2022/2023?
- I'm confused about which lines require fully vaccinated passengers and those which just require a test -- how do I find that information?
- I have a family with unvaccinated kids -- what lines can they sail on?
- Will I be able to sail internationally this year?
- How do I choose the right cruise line when so many are sailing around the UK?
1. I've got my Future Cruise Credit -- is it valid against any sailing this summer?
Yes your FCC is be valid for sailings this summer and you can top up your FCC should the cruise you chose be of a higher value. Depending on the cruise line there may be a use by date but this is generally far ahead in the future and some cruise lines also require the new booking to be at least equal value of the original booking.
2. What about the perks I secured on the cruise I originally booked -- will they be transferred on to my next cruise?
You will not necessarily be able to get the same offers or added value that you had on your original booking, however, the cruise lines have a wide range of offers and it may be that the additional value of your future cruise deposit amply covers paying for the perks or allows you to upgrade your cabin selection.
3. When should I rebook?
Most of the cruise lines have a generous window for you to decide on what you would like to rebook so you don’t have to rush and can decide in your own time, the only caveat to this is that there are some very good offers available at the moment which may not last and there will be lots of people booking the end of this year and next year already.
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It's worth noting that cruises are selling fast, however as many of these cruises are for new itineraries that have just gone on sale there is generally good availability. If you are looking for a specific cabin type, such as a family cabin, for peak dates you should definitely book sooner rather than later.
You can also take advantage of the new flexible change policies, introduced recently to give you the confidence to book a cruise knowing that you can amend it with no penalty if circumstances change.
4. Is now a good time to be looking for bargains in 2022/2023?
Yes, there are some excellent launch prices and early booking offers. We have seen a lot of interest in longer duration long-haul cruises for 2022/23, such as the Caribbean and South America, and Christmas 2022.
5. I'm confused about which lines require fully vaccinated passengers and those which just require a test -- how do I find that information?
A call to your travel agent will be able to provide this information and go through the differing requirements for each line, for you to make an informed decision. It's worth noting, however, that P&O Cruises is requiring all passengers to be fully vaccinated so you won't be able to take the kids onboard this summer (see below: 6. I have a family with unvaccinated kids -- what lines can they sail on?)
Cruise Critic is a great source to find out which cruise lines require a COVID-19 vaccination.
6. I have a family with unvaccinated kids -- what lines can they sail on?
Families with unvaccinated children under 18 can travel with MSC Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Marella Cruises (children 2-18), Hurtigruten, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Tradewinds. A pre-travel test may be required.
7. Will I be able to sail internationally this year?
It's looking increasingly positive. Cruise will follow the same government traffic light system so it will depend on where we will be allowed to travel. Cruise lines are planning on opening up in the Mediterranean in destinations that look most likely to have green status by July such as Cyprus and Greece. If you book a cruise now, it will be on flexible terms, so you are able to amend your booking up to closer to departure date.
There are also very positive noises coming from the US, with a number of cruises set to restart in the Caribbean next month, as well as the distinct possibility of cruises from the US restarting in July.
8. How do I choose the right cruise line when so many are sailing around the UK?
There's a huge array of cruise lines to choose from. Some cruise lines only accept vaccinated guests, which means that no children will be on board, some don't require vaccinations at all and others just require adults to be vaccinated -- so start with establishing which options are available to you and your group.
Then you can choose from regional departures, short breaks or longer sailings that stop at ports as well as formal/informal cruising -- depending on what you prefer. Some cruise lines are placing their newest ships in UK waters, but there are smaller ships should you prefer. A specialist agent will be able to search for you and advise what choices you have and find something that suits your needs.