Cruise lines today reacted to news of the collapse of U.K. tour operator Thomas Cook with statements to help passengers on future sailings booked through the company.
The failure of the business, which was founded in 1841, and its airline of the same name has sent shockwaves through the travel industry and left more than 150,000 Britons stranded abroad awaiting a repatriation operation likely to cost £600 million. Meanwhile, thousands of others, including cruise passengers, have future holidays made through the company.
Lines have issued statements reassuring passengers that cruises will go ahead and providing advice on what will happen next. Further information is also available from travel trade organisations ABTA and ATOL which provide protection for travellers who have booked cruises through companies that are members of the organisations.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA CEO, said: "Along with many others in the industry, I am extremely saddened by the news about the demise of Thomas Cook. It is one of the U.K.'s most iconic travel brands and today thousands of staff are facing losing their jobs. For ABTA members, customers and industry colleagues, this will be an extremely worrying time. ABTA has developed detailed advice for customers. ABTA staff will be doing all we can to manage enquiries as swiftly as possible."
Information on the company website added: "The vast majority of holidaymakers' arrangements are covered through different types of financial protection: the majority are flight packages covered by ATOL plus a smaller volume are packages without flights and accommodation covered by ABTA. Flights booked directly with Thomas Cook airlines are not covered by ATOL or ABTA so customers will need to contact their card issuer. "
Cruise Critic members have taken to the boards to express their shock at the demise of the company coupled with the loss of 9,000 jobs in the U.K. and the closure of 600 high street shops.
Ann141 said: "We have five future cruises booked with Thomas Cook but it's the people who work for them that I feel most sorry for. We might lose the discount they give us if our cruises are transferred to P&O but they will lose their jobs."
The following cruise lines have issued statements and Cruise Critic will add more as they are released:
Cosmos and Avalon Waterways
Giles Hawke, CEO of Cosmos and Avalon Waterways, U.K., said: "We are sad to learn that Thomas Cook has entered compulsory liquidation, our thoughts are with all the staff and customers affected. A number of Thomas Cook customers are booked on tours and cruises with Cosmos Tours Ltd -- Cosmos, Globus and Avalon Waterways -- and we can confirm that every booking with us, via Thomas Cook, is safe and customers' holidays will go ahead.
"Over the coming days we will work with all our customers affected to confirm their bookings and travel plans. If customers have a Cosmos, Globus or Avalon Waterways holiday booked via Thomas Cook, we advise them to get in touch with our team on 0208 315 4611. Cosmos Tours Ltd holidays are fully protected. We are fully licensed with the CAA’s ATOL scheme (ATOL number 1082) and are members of ABTA (ABTA number V3031)."
A statement posted on the line's Facebook page said: "We are sorry to hear the news regarding Thomas Cook. We will be contacting all guests who have current or future Cunard voyages booked through Thomas Cook. All Cunard voyages booked through Thomas Cook will be going ahead as planned."
In a statement on its Facebook page the line said: "If you booked your MSC Cruise through Thomas Cook, please be assured we will be doing everything we can to ensure you still have an enjoyable cruise and we will honour all elements of the booking which Thomas Cook made through MSC Cruises. Today we will start the process of contacting all guests affected by the news and with whom we have contact details (in sail date order) -- please be patient and we’ll speak to you as soon as we can. For more information we will post a FAQ shortly."
In a statement on the line's site, P&O said: "We will be contacting all guests who have current or future P&O Cruises holidays booked through Thomas Cook. All P&O Cruises holidays booked through Thomas Cook will be going ahead as planned. Those travelling on a Thomas Cook aircraft on our fly/Caribbean or fly/Mediterranean cruise holidays will also be updated as soon as we have confirmed alternative aircraft."
Royal Caribbean has set up a dedicated hotline for anyone that has booked a cruise through Thomas Cook and travelling within the next seven days. Passengers should call 01932 834145.
The line has also set up a page on its site to answer questions. A statement also published reads: "Please be assured we will be doing everything we can to ensure you still have an amazing trip. We will honour all elements of the booking which Thomas Cook made through Royal Caribbean. We are contacting all guests affected by the news, in sail date order. If your sailing is not within the next seven days, please wait for us to contact you. All package holidays with a flight sold by Thomas Cook are protected by ATOL. ATOL certificates are issued at the time of confirmation and give details about the level of protection this provides you. Cruise-only holidays sold by Thomas Cook are protected by ABTA."
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
In an online statement the line said: "Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is reassuring customers who have booked through Thomas Cook, Freedom Travel and Future Travel that their Fred. Olsen holiday will go ahead .Customers are protected through Fred. Olsen's ABTA bond (for cruises that do not involve a flight) and its ATOL licence (for fly-cruise holidays). Fred. Olsen will be taking over any cruise bookings made with these three travel agents directly.
"Fred. Olsen is contacting customers who have booked through Thomas Cook, Freedom Travel and Future Travel to notify them of the situation. Customers can rest assured that they will be going on holiday with Fred. Olsen as planned, and we are making the necessary arrangements to ensure this. Fred. Olsen has always been responsible for its customers’ cruise holidays and their contracts have always been directly with Fred. Olsen."
Norwegian Cruise Line
In a statement the line said: "Norwegian Cruise Line has taken over reservations currently booked through Thomas Cook travel agencies. Updated confirmations are being issued and all future payments should be directed to Norwegian Cruise Line. Guests with questions should call 02380 718 916."
A spokesperson said: "Cruises booked through Thomas Cook will go ahead as planned. Princess Cruises will now handle all Thomas Cook bookings direct and we are in the process of contacting all affected guests."