September 24, 2019
(4:30 p.m. BST) -- At the time of publication, it looks as though we will not be crashing out of the EU without a deal on October 31 -- if Boris Johnson abides by the terms of the Benn Bill and the Supreme Court ruling today. So, the burning question on every traveller’s mind, especially for those with cruises booked in the near future is: will sailing continue to be stress-free or are there choppy waters ahead? How does the government plan on keeping people moving, especially with the ongoing uncertainty about how and exactly when the UK will leave the EU?
Will my cruise be affected?
Cruise operations are continuing as normal, and passengers who embark on a cruise at a UK port continue to be protected by the EU regulation on maritime passengers’ rights, which will be brought into UK law. In addition, the majority of the rules under which cruises operate are not based on EU roles, but are international.
If the UK government does agree a Brexit deal, the UK will enter a transition period - everything will remain the same during that period and people would continue to travel as they do now.
The government recommends that passengers take out appropriate travel insurance, check and understand the terms and conditions of their booking, and speak to their cruise line and insurance provider if they have any questions.
They also recommend that before you leave for your cruise, you check online for the latest travel information and information from your cruise operator.
Andy Harmer, CLIA UK & Ireland director, said: “We welcome this advice and hope it reassures UK and EU citizens planning a cruise holiday."
Stuart Leven, Royal Caribbean vice president EMEA and managing director, does not expect the guest experience to be impacted by Brexit.
“We are working behind the scenes to make sure we have the steps in place to deal with any logistics changes, regardless of the agreement between the UK and the EU.”
What are the possible scenarios?
Deal or no deal, there is a possibility that the cost of cruising could rise, as well as fuel costs due to a fall in sterling, and potentially the cost of excursions too.
“Marine operations are not the subject of EU specific laws so from an operational perspective, there should be minimal impact,” says Leven. “We have the option to provision our ships in the UK or EU so supply is also covered.
“In a no-deal scenario, we may see increased immigration checks and we are planning our resource accordingly to make sure any impact on guests is minimal. We are planning for all eventualities.”
However, in the event of a no-deal, European Health cards (EHICs) will no longer be valid, therefore appropriate travel insurance is vital, including emergency cover, to cover any medical expenses you may incur.
If the UK does leave the EU without a deal, there will be some changes and there are some actions you may need to take in advance, so that you can continue with your trip as planned.
With so many mixed messages flying around, many cruise lines have been keen to reassure customers.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has launched its Brexit Promise, offering passengers a full refund and free cruise guarantee if a cruise is cancelled due to the UK leaving the European Union.
The cruise line is also continuing with its "Book with Confidence" guarantee. This includes a new "No Supplement, no Surcharge" guarantee -- once a booking is confirmed, no surcharges or supplements will be added to the cruise price -- all onboard prices in pounds sterling, Fred. Olsen’s Enjoyment Promise, and ABTA and ATOL protection.
And if you are sailing with Fred. Olsen, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Saga Cruises or P&O Cruises -- all have sterling prices on board, so your on board spending won't be impacted if the exchange rate changes.
P&O Cruises has issued a "Brexit Promise". A statement on its website reads: "P&O Cruises has hundreds of holidays sailing direct from the UK, the ultimate way to get your holiday off to a relaxing start. In the event of a no deal scenario, the Government have confirmed cruise holidays will continue on the same basis as today."
Cunard Line states: "In addition to the reassurances provided by UK Government guidance and existing protection afforded by EU regulations, Cunard is a trusted international British brand which offers peace of mind to guests holidaying with us, gained through over 178 years of experience.
"As a business we continue to plan against scenarios that Brexit may result in, and can assure all guests that if there are any changes that affect the way we travel we shall ensure these have as little impact as possible."
Meanwhile, Scenic Ocean Cruises’ Scenic Brexit Assurance, offers peace of mind in light of Brexit. The Assurance guarantees the following:
- No price increases, no surcharges or supplements, regardless of the Brexit outcome
- Scenic’s truly All-Inclusive philosophy, where even the things you’d expect to pay extra for are included in the price
- Scenic Club -- the much-loved loyalty programme that rewards repeat travellers
- Complete financial protection, provided by ABTA, ATOL and IATA
Europe’s largest river cruise operator, CroisiEurope, recently announced details of its Brexit Price Guarantee. The guarantee states that CroisiEurope will not add any surcharge, or change the price of a booking after it is confirmed and full payment taken, for any reason directly related to negative exchange rate movements as a result of Brexit. This applies to any new holiday booked from August 30 to October 30 2019, for any travel date. All other booking conditions remain unchanged.
There have been rumours that, in the event of the UK leaving the EU, visas would be required when travelling to Europe.
The European Parliament has confirmed that UK travellers will not need a visa to travel to the EU for short stays after Brexit -- even in the event of a no-deal exit. UK citizens will be able to visit the EU for up to 90 days within a 180-day period without a visa.
On 4 April the European Parliament approved legal changes to ensure that UK citizens will not need a visa to travel to the EU for short stays after Brexit -- even in the event of a no-deal exit.
The European Commission announced last November its intention that, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK citizens will still be able to travel to the EU for up to 90 days within a 180-day period without needing a visa.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA, The Travel Association, said: “The vote provides absolute certainty that UK holidaymakers and business travellers will be able to travel visa-free to Europe, deal or no deal.
“It follows on from the confirmation a few weeks ago that flights will continue to operate, even in a no deal. This means that two of the most important concerns for UK tourists and business travellers visiting the EU have been addressed and will provide a further boost to confidence about travel to the EU after Brexit.”
Check your passport – should the UK leave the EU without a deal, those planning to travel abroad will be required to have six months validity left on their passport on the day of travel from the UK to the EU.
Will fly-cruise flights be affected?
So you’ve booked your cruise and there are flights involved to get you to and from your departure point. Will you still be able to get there?
If a deal is agreed, the UK will be in a transition period and flights will operate as normal until December 2020. Thanks to the EU’s passenger rights legislation, if travellers suffer avoidable cancellations or delays to their journey, they can be compensated.
Even in a no-deal scenario, the European Commission has said that UK airlines will still fly between the UK and the EU under a reciprocal arrangement.