Cruise Wrap: Scenic kicks off Eclipse II build, Royal Caribbean extends ‘Cruise with Confidence’ policy + MORE

Cruise Wrap: Scenic kicks off Eclipse II build, Royal Caribbean extends ‘Cruise with Confidence’ policy + MORE

With moves, shakes and changes coming in waves from the cruise industry, here’s a week’s worth of everything you need to know.

Scenic commences Scenic Eclipse II build

Construction has begun on Scenic Eclipse II, the second discovery yacht from the Scenic Group in its ocean fleet, at the Rijeka shipyard in Croatia.

The steel cutting of Scenic Eclipse II marks the first build of five new custom-built vessels planned for the next six years across the group.

MKM Yachts, a newly developed company wholly owned by the Scenic Group, will now take full responsibility for all new ocean ship builds in their fleet, starting with the construction of Scenic Eclipse II.

It comes as Scenic welcomes Scenic Eclipse’s selection in ‘Condé Nast Traveler’s 2020 Hot List’ for ‘Best New Cruise Ships and Itineraries in the World’.

Royal Caribbean extends ‘Cruise with Confidence’ policy through April 2022

Royal Caribbean Group is extending its ‘Cruise with Confidence’ cancellation policy for sailings through April 2022.

For new and existing bookings created by 1 August 2020, guests have the flexibility to cancel their cruise up to 48 hours prior to sailing and receive a full credit of the cruise fare for a future cruise through April 2022.

Royal Caribbean has also enhanced the Cruise with Confidence policy with new rebooking options. The updates now available to travellers and their travel advisors include:

  • ‘Best price guarantee’: Guests can choose to change the price and promotional offer on their reservation up to 48 hours before their cruise
  • ‘Lift and shift’: As close as 48 hours prior to sailing, travellers have the option to simply ‘lift and shift’ their cruise to the same itinerary departing on a future date. The original price and promotional offer on the reservation will be protected, along with the length of the cruise and stateroom category.

Hurtigruten lengthens suspension of operations, plans gradual phase-in of cruises

In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Hurtigruten will extend the temporary suspension of worldwide sailings to mid-June. The company hopes to gradually restart operations from 16 June.

Following 16 June, Hurtigruten advised it would make decisions for each and every voyage individually.

The expedition cruise line will update all booked guests on any changes that will affect their voyage “as soon as possible”, and no later than three weeks (21 days) before the scheduled ship’s departure.

In terms of expeditions, Hurtigruten plans to gradually restart these in areas where restrictions are lifted – where and when it believe it is safe.

As in the case of its voyages, Hurtigrtuen will make decisions on each and update all booked guests on any changes that will affect their journey as soon as possible, and no later than three weeks (21 days) before the scheduled departure.

As there still is a lot of uncertainty surrounding international travel restrictions in the following weeks and months, Hurtigruten has introduced a flexible rebooking policy, offering free rebooking for all guests on all voyages departing before 30 September.

Guests are also offered rebooking and a future discount of 10 per cent on any future Hurtigruten cruise – expedition or Norwegian Coastal – in 2020 or 2021.

For full policy and rebooking options, click here to visit Hurtigruten’s dedicated information page.

“We can’t wait to see you”: Celebrity Cruises’s epcial video message

In a special video message released across Celebrity Cruises social media pages, the cruise company delivered a heartfelt message of hope and support, expressing that it cannot wait to welcome guests back on board its ships “once the world is open again”.

Alongside the video, crew are sharing inspiring photos of themselves on board through their social channels using the #IAMCELEBRITY hashtag.

Foreship proposes ‘Project Hygiea’ to keep coronavirus off cruise ships

Naval architecture and marine engineering firm Foreship has devised a four-step plan to limit the presence and spread of COVID-19 and other pathogens on passenger cruise ships.

Coined ‘Project Hygiea’, the initiative includes four steps: interception, prevention, mitigation and evacuation.

Implementation of all four steps, according to Foreship, would depend on an initial ‘hazard and operability’ (HAZOP) analysis, which involves the company collaborating with vessels’ stakeholders to identify risk and develop ship-tailored solutions.

Once the impact of measures on board and in port are assessed and approved, engineering works, installation, commissioning and verification are granted.

Windstar to pay commission on all future cruise credits

Windstar Cruises has implemented a major change to its travel agent commission policy, as well as announcing the return of a favourite promotion for travel advisors.

Timed to honour the United States’ National Travel and Tourism Week and National Travel Advisor Day (6 May), Windstar changed its 100 per cent future credit policy to pay agent commissions on all future cruise credits, recognising that “far more cruises have been cancelled than in the past”.

In addition to the commission change, Windstar has announced the return of its most popular promotion for travel advisors – the ‘Sell 3, Sail Free’ program, which will begin on 18 May.

Travel advisors must sell three staterooms, and once fully deposited, the advisor (and a guest) sail for free on a cruise departing by 30 April 2021, which will be confirmed 60 days out based on availability.

However, Windstor advised that agents would be required to pay taxes, fees and port expenses, plus gratuities.

Virgin Voyages launches exclusive Facebook group, webinar series for Aussie agents

Virgin Voyages has launched a Facebook page dedicated to Australian travel agents, to enable agency partners and ‘First Mates’ to connect with the Virgin Voyages team and receive all the latest updates during this time.

Virgin Voyages is also running three exclusive webinars over the next couple of weeks, focused on educating Australian agents on the cruise line’s product.

The first webinar will be held at 4pm (EST) on Tuesday 19 May. Agents can register to attend this webinar here.

CMV extends suspension of cruises through to 30 June 2020

Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Vasco da Gama in Santorini, Greece

Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) has extended the suspension of cruises worldwide from 25 May through to 30 June.

All of the ships in CMV’s global fleet have now returned to their home ports in the United Kingdom and Germany, with no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on any of its ships, the cruise line said.

This suspension of operations will apply to CMV cruises across the globe, and all affected passengers are being contacted with an offer of compensation, which includes a future cruise credit to the value of 125 per cent of their cruise fare.

The cruise line explained this travel credit applies to fully paid bookings valid until 31 March 2021, redeemable against its best deal of the day, including CMV’s ‘buy one, get one free’ offer, which is applicable on all 2021 sailings.

The offer has now been extended to 31 May 2020.

Oceania Cruises launches ‘The Ultimate Sale’

Oceania Cruises has launched ‘The Ultimate Sale’, with major price reductions on sailing fares starting as low as $2,220 per guest for inside staterooms and $2,930 per guest for veranda staterooms.

Travellers can select from more than 400 voyages departing in 2020, 2021 or 2022 sailing throughout Australia-New Zealand, the South Pacific, Alaska, Europe, Asia, New England-Canada, Bermuda, the Caribbean and Panama Canal, South America, Africa and Arabia, and even Grand Voyages that traverse the continents.

Several Specialty Cruises are also highlights of The Ultimate Sale, hosted by Oceania Cruises’ CEO, president and co-founder, alongside fellow members of the Oceania team.

These include James Rodriguez, executive vice president of sales & marketing; Jacques Pépin, executive culinary director; or Claudine Pépin, daughter of Jacques Pépin and godmother of the Sirena.

NCL opens itineraries through to 2023

Walvis Bay, Namibia (

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has opened more than a year’s worth of sailings for 2021 through to 2023, with voyages to over 20 new destinations across all seven of Earth’s continents.

Among the notable itineraries are Norwegian Star’s first voyage to Antarctica beginning in 2021 when she sails from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the vessel’s 15-day South America itinerary, which departs from Rio de Janeiro in March 2022.

New destinations featured in the itineraries include Elephant Island and Deception Island in Antarctica; Nagoya and Beppu in Japan; Durban, South Africa, Luderitz and Walvis Bay in Namibia; and Timaru, New Zealand.

NCL is also encouraging travel agents to join its dedicated Facebook page, where they will be required to register their agency name, job title and email address to become members of the group.

Avalon Waterways opens ‘Taster’ cruises in bid to create “new wave” of cruisers

Avalon Waterways is offering travellers the opportunity to get a taste of river cruising, with a selection of four, five, and six-day ‘Taster’ itineraries available to book for 2021, starting from $1,340.

Among these is the four-day ‘A Taste of the Danube’ itinerary, which visits three capitals and three countries in just three nights, giving first-time river cruisers an opportunity to sample river cruising and the Blue Danube without breaking the bank.

Another, the company’s six-day ‘Danube Symphony’ holiday, sails down the most beautiful stretch of the Danube River, including the Wachau Valley (pictured above) with its vineyard-clad hillsides and picturesque villages.

Save on an iconic Kentucky Derby steamboat cruise

For a limited time, the American Queen Steamboat Company is offering Australians savings of up to US$800 ($1,237) per couple and a free beverage package on a nine-day Kentucky Derby Cruise in 2021.

The deal is valid for bookings made before 30 June 2020.

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