Just like the cancellations of airline flights to Asian and European countries, travelers with reservations on several cruise lines may be worried by the growing spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
On March 13, President Donald Trump tweeted that major cruise lines have agreed to postpone new trips. "At my request, effective midnight tonight, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and MSC have all agreed to suspend outbound cruises for thirty days,' he wrote. "It is a great and important industry – it will be kept that way!"
On March 19, the State Department raised the global travel advisory to level 4: Do not travel. According to the department's advisory, "U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period."
Cruise Lines International Association, the world's largest cruise industry trade organization, announced on March 4 that additional screening measures will be taken in response to the spread of the disease. Cruise lines that are members of CLIA include Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International. Effective immediately, these companies and all other CLIA members must follow these guidelines:
- Deny boarding to all people who have traveled from, visited or transited via airports in South Korea, Iran, China (including Hong Kong and Macao) and any municipality in Italy subject to quarantine within 14 days before embarkation.
- Conduct illness screenings for all people who have traveled from, visited or transited through airports in any destination listed on the CDC's coronavirus disease 2019 information for travel page within 14 days before embarkation.
- Deny boarding to all persons who, within 14 days before embarkation, have had contact with or helped care for anyone suspected or diagnosed with having COVID-19.
- Conduct preboarding screening necessary to effectuate these prevention measures.
Coronavirus Outbreak Coverage
If you are looking to cancel your trip, be sure to check your cruise line's cancellation policy (or travel insurance coverage). While it varies from company to company, most cruise lines will refund a portion of what you paid. However, the closer it gets to your departure date, the smaller that refund will be, and in some cases, that amount could be zero.
Below is a list of the latest policies by major cruise lines for boarding as well as updated cancellation policies. Find out if your trip might be impacted:
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival is suspending all sailings departing March 13 through April 9 across all North America-based ships. The company plans to resume operations on April 10. Guests affected by the suspension will receive a 100% refund of future cruise credit or in the original payment. Depending on the cruise length, guests who choose the future cruise credit will also be given onboard credit to use on their next cruise as long as it is booked by Dec. 31 for sailings before Dec. 31, 2022.
On April 1, Carnival also announced the following cancellations:
- All Alaska sailings through and including June 30, 2020;
- All San Francisco sailings through 2020;
- All Carnival Radiance sailings through and including Nov. 1, 2020;
- All Carnival Legend sailings through and including Oct. 30, 2020.
Customers impacted by the recent cancellations are being asked to use the online forms available here: https://www.carnival.com/request-forms/cancellation-preference-v2.aspx
As a CLIA member, Carnival is complying with all screening and operational protocols listed above but is extending the restrictions to 20 days before embarkation and including Japan and Singapore on its list of restricted countries. Carnival will be taking the temperatures of all guests and crew.
Guests who keep their booking for any departures between March 6 and May 31 will receive onboard credit. The amounts vary on the length of each cruise, but start at a minimum of $100 and will be automatically applied.
Guests with bookings for May made on or before March 5, can cancel up to 30 days before departure. If guests made a booking on or before March 10, for trips from June through September, they can cancel 30 days before sailing.
Guests will receive a future cruise credit for the amount of the nonrefundable cancellation fee that must be used within one year of their original sailing date.
All Princess Cruises between March 12 and May 10 that fall under Carnival have been suspended. Scroll to the Princess Cruises section for more details.
As of March 15, Celebrity Cruises has suspended all global sailings through May 11. Guests impacted will receive 125% future cruise credit to use through 2021 or a 100% refund. The company has also listed all cruises affected on its website.
Guests who canceled their cruise prior to the suspension are not eligible for the 125% future credit or 100% refund.
Celebrity Cruises is complying with all CLIA restrictions and will additionally deny boarding to any guest who transited through mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, Iran or South Korea 15 days before departure as well as guests who came in contact with people who reside in those areas. They updated their website to include a list of European countries as well.
Celebrity Cruises has also adopted a "cruise with confidence" policy. This allows guests to cancel a cruise up to 48 hours before sailing. Guests will receive full credit for the cancellation to use on any cruise in 2020 or 2021. This policy applies to all cruises departing up until July 31.
Disney Cruise Line
On March 30, Disney announced that all cruises slated to depart through April 28 are suspended. The company will offer affected guests a full refund or future cruise credit, the details of both will be sent directly to guests. Disney asks guests to wait to contact the company until they receive an email. Customers can find the full list of affected sailing on the cruise line's website.
Since March 6, Disney has been offering temporary adjustments to their cancellation policy. At the time, company officials said guests booked on departures on the Disney Magic between April 29 and May 8 can change their reservation up until the day before embarkation and receive a 100% cruise credit to use on a future cruise within 15 months of their original departure date. Guests booked on the Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Wonder between April 29 and May 31 are under the same adjustments.
Norwegian Cruise Line
As of March 30, Norwegian has suspended all voyages departing between March 13 and May 10 worldwide. The company plans to resume operations on May 11. Guests with bookings between March 13 and March 17 will receive a 150% refund in future cruise credit to use through Dec. 31, 2022. Guests with bookings between March 18 and May 10 will receive a 125% refund in future cruise credit to use through Dec. 31, 2022. Guests are also able to request a 100% refund in the original form of payment, however, Norwegian asks that they submit a refund request by April 27, 2020, for all sailings.
You can access the refund form here.
Norwegian Cruise Line is extending CLIA travel restrictions by denying boarding to:
- Any passenger or crew member with a temperature of 100.4 F (38 C)
- Any passenger or crew member who has had contact with or helped care for anyone suspected or diagnosed as having COVID-19, or who are currently subject to health monitoring for possible exposure to COVID-19, within 30 days before embarkation
Guests who are denied board will receive a refund of 100% future cruise credit.
For all sailings embarking from May 11 through Sept. 30, guests may cancel up to 48 hours before their sail date and receive a refund of 100% future cruise credit. The credit must be used for cruises that embark on or before Dec. 31, 2022. The new booking must be made within one year from the cancellation date.
Oceania Cruises is extending the CLIA travel restrictions by denying boarding to:
- Any passenger or crew member who has been in China, Hong Kong, Macao, South Korea, Iran, Italy or any other country identified by the Centers for Disease Control as having widespread ongoing transmission within 30 days of embarkation
- Any passenger or crew member who has come into direct contact with anyone who has traveled from, visited, or transited in an airport in the aforementioned countries
Any guest who is denied boarding will receive a refund in the form of 100% future cruise credit.
Oceania Cruises is offering a travelers assurance program featuring no-penalty cancellations. Guests with existing bookings departing up until Sept. 30 and guests with new bookings through April 30 for trips departing through Sept. 30 can cancel for any reason up to 48 hours before departure and will receive 100% future cruise credit to use before Dec. 31, 2022.
As of March 13, Oceania Cruises initiated suspension of all voyages worldwide embarking from March 13 through April 11. "Voyages already underway on March 13, 2020 will be concluded and guests disembarked as soon as possible." Due to the current travel ban from Europe to the United States, Oceania is adjusting the where and when some current cruises will conclude. Find that list here.
Princess Cruises is a CLIA member and updated its health and travel advisory this week to comply with the association's restrictions. Any crew members from China, South Korea or the lockdown areas in Italy will be delayed from joining any ship until further notice. "Any individual who has traveled from or through mainland China, Macau, Hong Kong, South Korea, Iran or Italy within 14 days of the start of their cruise, including transit through their airports, will not be permitted to board the ship."
As of March 12, Princess Cruises is pausing all global ship operations for the next 60 days, ending May 10. Guests who are currently onboard a cruise that ends within the next five days will continue to sail through the end of the itinerary. Guests who have bookings on cruises within this window will have the chance to transfer 100% of the money paid to a future cruise. Princess Cruises is also adding a cruise credit benefit, which can be applied to a cruise fare or onboard expenses. If guests cannot use the future cruise credit, they can fill out a form to request a cash refund.
Based on the recent events on the Diamond Princess, Princess Cruises is advising that all guests pack 14-day supplies of extra medication, provide emergency contacts, purchase travel protection, practice healthy travel habits and enable an international travel mobile phone plan.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Regent Seven Seas Cruises is suspending all voyages with departure dates from March 13 to May 10. The company plans to resume operations on May 11.
Guests impact by the suspension will receive a 125% refund in future cruise credit to be applied through Dec. 31, 2022. Guests also have the option to receive a 100% refund in the form of the original payment within 90 days of the request.
To give guests more flexibility, Regent is introducing Regent Reassurance. For all existing and new bookings made by May 31 that will be departing on or before Dec. 31, 2020, guests who have paid in full have the option to cancel their trip up to 48 hours before departure and receive 100% of that amount in cruise credit to use on any future cruise up until Dec. 31, 2022.
Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean has announced a voluntary suspension of cruising worldwide, effective March 15. The decision comes two days after deciding to suspend departures from U.S. ports on March 13. Guests currently onboard a cruise will not be affected. They plan to resume operations on May 12.
On April 1, Royal Caribbean updated closures fro ships sailing from Singapore and through Canada:
- Canadian ports will remain closed until July 1, 2020.
- The Port of Singapore will remain closed through May 2020.
Any guests affected by this suspension will receive 125% future cruise credit to use by Dec. 31, 2021. If guests prefer a full refund instead, Royal Caribbean is allowing guests to make requests. You can request a refund here.
While a CLIA member, Royal Caribbean is going one step further in health precautions. The cruise line will deny boarding to any guest who has traveled from, to or through mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, Iran, South Korea and Italy in the past 15 days. They have updated their site to include a list of European countries as well with the same 15 day time frame. The 15-day limit also applies to people who have come in contact with someone who traveled to the aforementioned countries or had contact with or helped care for someone suspected or diagnosed with having COVID-19.
The cruise line will also perform mandatory, specialized health screenings on the following guests:
- Any person who reports feeling unwell or demonstrates any flu-like symptoms
- Any guest who has traveled from, to or through Japan or Thailand in the past 15 days
- Guests who are uncertain about contact with individuals who have traveled from, to or through mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, Iran, South Korea, Japan, Thailand or mainland Europe in the past 15 days
Guests with a fever or low oxygen levels in the blood during the screenings will be denied boarding. Royal Caribbean will provide full credit refunds for all guests denied boarded due to these restrictions.
As of March 16, guests age 70 or older will be denied boarding unless they provide written verification from a qualified treating physician. As of March 13, boarding is denied to any guest with a severe, chronic medical condition, including those specified by the CDC.
Along with Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean has adopted a "cruise with confidence" policy. This gives guests greater control over their vacations by allowing them to cancel a cruise up to 48 hours before sailing. Guests will receive full credit for the cancellation to use on any cruise that sets sail through Dec. 31, 2021. This policy applies to all cruises on or before Sept. 1, 2020.
Viking River Cruises
As of March 11, Viking River Cruises is temporarily suspending operations of all cruises taking place between March 12 and June 30. Guests whose cruise is suspended in this window will be offered a future cruise voucher worth 125% of the amount paid or a refund equal to the amount paid. Guests have 24 months to use the cruise voucher, but if they are unable to, Viking will send an automatic refund. Customers must request a refund by April 6 calling Viking at 1-833-900-0951 or the travel agent they booked with.
This newly launched cruise line is currently abiding by CLIA restrictions. Virgin is expanding on the restrictions and will deny boarding to anyone who has been in the following countries within the last 21 days before departure:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
Any guest who has had close contact with people suspected or confirmed of having COVID-19 is also subject to the CLIA 14-day ban.
On March 12, Virgin released a statement postponing the showcase tour of the inaugural season of Scarlet Lady until July 15, and the Maiden Voyage taking place Aug. 7. Guests affected by the changes have the following refund options:
- 200% in future cruise credit that can be applied to another booking
- $500 onboard credit if guests rebook before June 30
- 100% refund and 25% future cruise credit on the value paid to use for another booking
This article was originally published on TODAY.com on March 5, 2020. More from TODAY: