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 travelers should expect during this uncertain time.
We spoke to Chuck Flagg, master cruise consultant with travel specialist Cruise Planners, and Rob Clabbers, president of Q Cruise + Travel, a Virtuoso member agency, and a luxury cruise expert, to get the answers to some of the crucial questions on cruisers' minds.
It's hard to know who to turn to right now when it comes to getting answers to your burning cruise questions.From future cruise credits to onboard perks, rebooking to simply: "When can I sail again?" -- there are so many questions cruisers need to know right now.So we spoke to Simone Clark, the Managing Director of the UK's biggest cruise specialist travel agency Iglu, to get the answers to some of the crucial questions on cruisers' minds.### When will I get my Future Cruise Credit? Does it vary by line? The cruise lines are using different means to calculate and pass on Future Cruise Credits (FCC), some are applying them directly to your customer profile in their booking system, others are sending details to travel agents and customers. Not all of the cruise line FCCs have been distributed or communicated to customers yet but in some cases we can process the rebooking now and apply the FCC when it is available. Our staff have up to date details for each cruise line and can assist customers with their individual queries.
. ### 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.When Are Cruise Lines Expected to Resume Service? 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.
.### 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. Our specialist team are on hand to assist you and have all the up to date information at their fingertips as well as access to the best deals.### Is now a good time to be looking for bargains in 2021? Yes, there are some excellent offers available for 2021 and many people are taking advantage of them, particularly for the Caribbean January to March and the Mediterranean in the spring and summer months. We know that cruisers and the cruise industry are very resilient but there is no better show of support than booking your next cruise. Many of the cruise lines have introduced flexible change policies so that you can amend your booking at a later date should circumstances change. ### Can I sail to Alaska this year? The news from the Port of Seattle is very recent and at this stage all we know is that cruises to Alaska have been suspended at least until July, so we cannot say when cruises to Alaska will resume. But we will be one of the first to know when it's back again. ### Will I get a refund or a FCC? The cruise lines are all offering a Future Cruise credit in the first instance which offers you great added value from your next cruise -- including being a higher value than you originally paid or additional onboard credit to spend on board. ### What do you think the cruise lines will change onboard in light of the coronavirus outbreak?Before the cruise lines temporarily paused operations they had already introduced heightened pre-embarkation screening measures so I imagine we should expect to see these become the norm and be a lot more stringent in future. There is also the prospect of ‘fitness to travel’ for certain groups of passengers, such as the over-70s.We know the cruise lines have been well aware of the importance of handwashing long before it became government advice, I can imagine that this will become even more prominent and readily available onboard and will be more rigorously enforced. We may also see the end of the self service buffet, with all food being plated by servers at the food stations. Some of the new wireless and contactless technology already available on some ships, such as Ocean Medallion, will be a valuable innovation in terms of minimising the need to touch surfaces/objects that others have also touched. The cruise industry is the most innovative in the world so I’m sure there will be more to come. Guests onboard will also need to play a part in this and keep washing their hands!