May 20, 2020
(Updated 1:26 p.m. EDT) Hundreds of thousands of travelers have been affected by the global travel restrictions that began back in March, imposed as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as countries around the world continue to place restrictions on leisure and business travel in an effort to curb the effects of the virus.
With the majority of the world's cruise lines temporarily suspending operations into the summer and beyond and countries still restricting the arrival of cruise ships and travelers, it can be difficult to know what to do, particularly if your voyage winds up being the victim of ongoing cancelations.
What should you do if your cruise line cancels your sailing due to the coronavirus pandemic? Here is our list of tips to help you through:
Consult Our Resources
The Cruise Critic team has been working so you don't have to. Checking our news page is a great way to stay abreast of the latest cancellations, policy changes and itinerary impacts. A few relevant articles that are updated regularly:
- When Are Cruise Lines Around the World Expected To Resume Service?
- Cruise Lines Modify Cancellation Policies For Better Flexibility
- Coronavirus: Updated Cruise Ship Policies and Cancellations
- Coronavirus: Which Cruise Ports Are Closed?
- Coronavirus Impact on Travel Causes Most Cruise Lines to Suspend Worldwide Operations
- Why Are Future Cruise Credits and Refunds Taking So Long?
- Watch Out For Cruise-Related Credit Card Scams During the Coronavirus Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic is also having a knock-on effect on new ships under construction, and those slated to go through major refits in the coming months. Cruise Critic is tracking and updating these articles regularly with confirmed changes and updates:
- Cruise Ship Delays Announced, Following Yard Closures and Slowdowns
- Major Cruise Ship Refits Delayed Due to Coronavirus Closures
The world of post-COVID cruising will look very different from what travelers are used to, as these new policy pieces indicate:
- Royal Caribbean to Cut Traditional Buffet Once Cruises Resume
- River Cruise Lines Start Outlining Onboard Health and Safety Changes
- Modified Cruise Ship Regulations No Longer Require Doctor's Notes For Passengers Over 70
- FAQ: What Are the Latest Cruising Rules From the CDC?
Don't Phone the Cruise Line
Under normal circumstances, a canceled cruise would be a good reason to phone the cruise line. Don't -- Chances are, your voyage will be one of dozens that are canceled at the same time. Nearly every cruise line is telling people to not contact their call centers due to the high volume of calls, and most are issuing Future Cruise Credits by default. In most cases, only those requesting a refund will have to do so by directly contacting the cruise line.
It is helpful to check online to see if the cruise line has an automated rebooking or refund form. A handful of lines offer online rebooking and refund options:
- Azamara (only for cruisers who want a complete refund and not a Future Cruise Credit)
- Celebrity Cruises (only for cruisers who want a complete refund and not a Future Cruise Credit)
- MSC Cruises (only for voyages booked on MSC's U.S. website)
- Royal Caribbean International (only for cruisers who want a complete refund and not a Future Cruise Credit)
If you used a travel adviser, have them handle the details on your behalf -- though be aware that many agents are as overwhelmed as the cruise lines are at this moment, and rebooking, refunds or future cruise credits may take some time to be issued.
Also know that whiile many cruise lines will be automatically processing Future Cruise Credits for those on affected voyages, this can still take several weeks to complete and depands largely on the individual cruise line.
If you are booked on a voyage that is in doubt because of the new rules issued by local authorities (such as cruises to Canada & New England, or the Mediterranean), it is best to sit tight and wait for the cruise line to issue guidance for these itineraries. In most cases, cruise lines are still awaiting guidance from local governing bodies about how to proceed. For the meantime, no news is good news.
Consider What You Want -- And What Your Cruise Line is Offering
While you wait to be contacted, consider what you want, given what your cruise line is offering (see our handy guide, above). Do you want a future cruise credit, or are you interested in rebooking immediately on a new voyage? Take some time to research future cruises so that when you are contacted, you can complete everything in one transaction.
Understand That More Changes Are Possible
With the COVID-19 pandemic still in progress, it is important to understand that future changes, including cancellations and itinerary alterations, are always possible. Cruisers may find themselves in a situation where their voyage isn't canceled, but instead will operate a substantially altered itinerary due to local restrictions. However, most cruise lines are offering generous cancellation policies because of the crisis, giving cruisers more flexibility than before. Take advantage of that.