Cruise Wrap: Spectrum of the Seas returns from bushfire volunteers cruise, Viking & Uniworld update cancellation policies + MORE!

Ready for some uplifting news? Take a minute to get boosted with this week’s Cruise Wrap.

Spectrum of the Seas returns from first bushfire volunteers’ cruise  

Royal Caribbean International’s Spectrum of the Seas sailed out of Sydney Harbour last week on her first humanitarian cruise in support of Australia’s volunteer first responder community, who worked tirelessly during the recent bushfire crisis.

Carrying over 3,500 dedicated volunteer first responders and their families, Spectrum of the Seas’ first complimentary four-night coastal cruise returns to Sydney today.

The second thank you cruise will follow the same itinerary from 7–11 March. With over 12,000 registrations received and in response to the overwhelming demand, Royal Caribbean has announced a third cruise from 13–17 March.

Royal Caribbean worked with state-based volunteer agencies to directly notify and encourage eligible volunteers to register for their complimentary cruise.

The cruise line has also partnered with Lifeline to provide individual support sessions for any guests who have been impacted by the bushfires and need to talk with the Bushfire Recovery line ‘13HELP’ on 13 43 57.

Viking, Uniworld update cancellation policies in response to coronavirus

Uniworld River Countess (supplied)

Viking has announced a temporary exception to its cancellation policy to give guests and travel agents unprecedented peace of mind when planning their travel.

Guests who are booked to travel on any upcoming 2020, 2021 or 2022 Viking cruise – whether river, ocean or expedition – are free to postpone their cruise at any time up until 24 hours before it departs, without incurring any cancellation fees.

Furthermore, they will receive a ‘Future Cruise Voucher’ for the full value of the amount paid which can be used toward any future river, ocean or expedition cruise with Viking and will be valid for 24 months from the date of issuance.

Any guest who books a new river, ocean or expedition cruise between now and 30 April 2020 will also be free to postpone their cruise up to 24 hours before departure, without incurring cancellation fees. They too will receive a Future Cruise Voucher valid for 24 months.

Viking has also reminded agents that its ‘Viking Explorer Sale’ is still on, and ends 31 March 2020.

To help alleviate the uncertainty guests may be feeling about their upcoming cruises, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has announced a change in the terms of its cancellation policy for 2020 cruises to allow guests more time to decide their travel plans.

Until further notice, guests booked on 2020 cruises departing 1 May or later will have the option to cancel their cruise at 30 days prior to departure, at the lowered 120-day cancellation rate of $250 per person.

This comes as the cruise line continues to monitor the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus) around the world, as Uniworld takes “all necessary precautionary measures before guest embarkation, and continuing to prioritise the safety of all guests and crew”.

Scenic’s Australian early bird offers end soon

Quokka on Rottnest Island (supplied)

There are only three weeks remaining to take advantage of the early bird offers on Scenic’s 2020/21 Australia program, which ends 30 March 2020.

Support Scenic’s regional destinations with these great domestic offers:

  • Flights included on the 23-day ‘Treasures of the West Coast’ – a saving of up to $1,365 per couple
  • Companion flights Included when booking the 13-day ‘Top End and Kimberley Spectacular’, 13-day ‘South Western Tapestry’ or 21-day ‘Territory Explorer and The Kimberley’ – a saving of up to $930 per couple
  • Early bird savings of up to $1,000 per couple for bookings on land journeys of eight days or more.

Untethered Danube River cruise among Avalon Waterways’ most popular itineraries

Avalon Waterways is showcasing what it believes is a “new trend in cruising”: Untethered river cruises through Europe.

The company’s ‘Active & Discovery’ itineraries are driving the trend, inviting travellers to customise every moment of their holiday to suit their interests.

Since launching this series of unfettered cruises, Avalon Waterways has expanded its offerings along the Rhine, Rhone and Danube Rivers. The company’s Active & Discovery on the Danube itinerary is its most popular for 2020.

While all Active & Discovery on the Danube travellers will begin their journey in Budapest and end their cruise in Linz (or the reverse), travellers have approximately 30 customisable opportunities on this nine-day cruise to create the perfect holiday.

Moreover, many of these excursions are included, helping guests better experience holidays their way.

UTracks announces new European vessel

Floor plan for UTracks’ Magnifique IV (UTracks)

UTracks is set to launch a new cruise vessel, Magnifique IV, next month. The deluxe 67-metre vessel will sail the canals of the Netherlands and Belgium, offering daily cycling excursions between charming historic towns.

The vessel will accommodate up to 36 passengers and comprise of eight cabins on the lower deck and ten suites on the upper deck. Each cabin and suite has a private ensuite bathroom, individually controlled air conditioning, flat screen satellite TV, mini safe and hair dryer.

The Magnifique IV will operate on UTracks’ ‘Amsterdam to Bruges – Deluxe’, ‘Bruges to Amsterdam – Deluxe’ and ‘Best of Holland Bike and Barge’ itineraries.

Machine learning key to growing Australia’s cruise industry: Global Data

GlobalData’s travel and tourism analyst Johanna Bonhill-Smith believes it is imperative to use modern technologies such as machine learning to capture the likes and dislikes of cruise customers.

“With the key leaders within the cruise industry involving Australia on an array of itineraries, cruise tourism in the destination plays a significant role within the overall tourism industry,” Bonhill-Smith said.

“If cruise owners are to capitalise on the growing numbers they must prioritise personalisation as well as focus on the experience economy. Around 85% of Australian travellers are now always, often and somewhat influenced by how a product is tailored to their needs.

“Tour operators should be looking to fully understand their market base through data analysis in the search to provide that ultimate personal experience.”

An estimated 32 million passengers will take to the seas globally in 2020, according to Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) predictions.

Crystal to introduce new amenities from Caudalie across entire fleet

Crystal Cruises has selected French skincare company Caudalie to furnish the line’s bath amenities across its entire fleet of award-winning ships.

Originating in Bordeaux, Caudalie uses grape seed extracts to create its proprietary formulas made with powerful antioxidant benefits, while being highly naturally formulated.

They are free of parabens, phenoxyethanol, mineral oils, sodium laureth sulfate, synthetic colouring agents and animal-based ingredients (except honey and beeswax).

Beginning in the autumn of 2020 aboard the sister ships of Crystal River Cruises, refillable bottles of Caudalie shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and body lotion will be placed in every guest suite. This will be followed in the winter aboard Crystal Esprit, and in the spring on Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. The products will be aboard Crystal Endeavor at launch.

CroisiEurope’s new Caribbean itineraries

La Belle des Océans will vacation under the Caribbean sun later this year (supplied)

After spending the summer cruising between Montreal and Saint Pierre and Miquelon on the Saint Lawrence River in Canada, CroisiEurope’s new ship, La Belle des Océans, will vacation under the sun in the Caribbean.

From 11 October 2020 to 5 April 2021, the vessel will offer two exclusive nine-day packages covering Guadeloupe, Saint Lucia, the Dominican Republic, British Virgin Islands and more. Four must-see excursions are included in each itinerary.

The La Belle des Oceans, which is CroisiEurope’s second seafaring ship, can moor in areas that are available only to low-capacity vessels.

Travellers can spend their days relaxing in sublime spots with white sandy beaches, swimming in crystal-clear lagoons, and discovering the beauty of fine coral reefs.

Featured image: Splendour of the Seas sets sail on the first bushfire volunteer-focused ‘thank you’ cruises (supplied)


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