A few weeks ago Canada has updated their cruise & port guidelines for 2020 in respect to Coronavirus to the effect that all Canada and Alaska as well as some Hawaiian cruises for the 2020 season are officially cancelled.
Canada has taken this approach in different steps beginning in March after the first serious problems involving cruises developed, especially the situation with the Diamond Princess in Japan.
The federal government has always said that it would leave the decision about port restrictions up to the provincial governments and signs didn’t look good for cruises when the Premier of British Columbia Mr. Horgan presented some slides with policies at a press conference a few weeks ago.
Now the decision is out that there won’t be any cruises this season, at least until October 31 2020 which means that all Alaska and Hawaiian cruises that were scheduled from Vancouver are no longer on the schedule.
As far as the U.S. authorities are concerned there is still a no sail order from the CDC in place which lasts until July at the latest, however it’s possible that this will be extended if deemed necessary.
The Passenger Vessel Services Act as well as the Jones Act require ships to make a stop at a foreign port in regards to service and passenger dis/embarkation which is why Vancouver and Victoria have always been mandatory stops and gateways for cruises up to Alaska as well as to Hawaii.
Now Celebrity Cruises has send out a respective email to all customers (including myself) as well as published a notice on their website.
Here is what the email reads:
We continue to face truly unprecedented times as the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic inflict unexpected consequences on our communities and businesses. The Government of Canada has recently announced continued port closures for all cruise ships through October 31st, 2020. In order to comply with these closures Celebrity Cruises must now cancel all Alaska and Canada/New England cruises during this time frame.
Unfortunately, these cancellations will include your upcoming 2020 voyage. Please know this decision was not made lightly, as we value your vacation time and want to ensure you have the best experience possible on a Celebrity Cruise.
In order to compensate you for this cancellation, all booked guests will automatically receive a 125% Future Cruise Credit (FCC) valid until December 31st, 2021, for use on sailings through May 4th, 2022. The value of the FCC will be calculated based on the amount paid for your cruise and will be processed by July 17th, 2020 via email. Cruise taxes and fees will be refunded automatically to your original form of payment within 30 days of cancellation. Should you prefer the lower value, 100% refund to your original method of payment, as opposed to the FCC, you may contact us anytime up until December 31, 2020.
If you pre-booked any shore excursions, beverage, internet, specialty dining or other onboard packages, through Celebrity Cruises, you will have the option of receiving 125% Onboard Credit (OBC) to be used on your next sailing, or you may choose a 100% refund. In order to select the 125% Onboard Credit please click here to submit your request. …
Overall the offers from Celebrity Cruises which is part of the Royal Caribbean group is more than fair. I’ll shift my Alaska Cruise to a date in May 2021 and take advantage of the 125% credit for onboard extras as I had already booked internet and a beverage package.
Similar announcements have been made by the following cruise lines:
- Carnival Cruises
- Disney Cruises
- Holland America Cruises
- Norwegian Cruise Lines
- Princess Cruises
- Seabourn Cruises
Some of these cruise lines are more specific than others as far as their operation schedule and cancellation policies go. I find Norwegian Cruise Lines as one of the major players in the market especially disappointing (as of today).
As things progressed I increasingly lost confidence that these Alaska Cruises would be going forward. Not only because of the authorities but also considering the efforts of the cruise lines to repatriate their staff back home. Many of the ships are currently on minimum crew somewhere in the Caribbean or in various dry docks to undergo maintenance which is probably a prudent decision especially for ships that already had renovation and maintenance work scheduled.
I still have hopes that maybe there will be the one or other cruise operating this year but for now I moved mine into Spring of 2021 and hope for the best that a year from now we can all enjoy cruising to Alaska again.