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Cruises

Hyatt works to mitigate coronavirus damage with new measures

Hyatt Hotels Corporation has waived cancellation fees for stays in Greater China, South Korea, Japan and Italy until March 31st.

The move is part of a wider package of measures designed to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus on travellers.

Guests who booked via online travel agents or other third parties are advised to contact their booking provider for information on their policies and for assistance.

Hyatt is also extending special exceptions for all advance purchase rate non-refundable reservations made directly with Hyatt on or before March 8th for travel through June.

Guests holding these fully prepaid reservations who have decided not to travel may opt to receive 10,000 World of Hyatt Bonus Points compensation in lieu of their stay to use toward future travel.

“We understand the need for increased flexibility with travel planning right now,” said Mark Hoplamazian, chief executive of Hyatt.

“We want you to know that we are monitoring the coronavirus situation closely, keeping those who are affected in our hearts, and are listening carefully to the questions and concerns we receive from guests such as yourself.

“We believe in responsible and safe travel while staying vigilant and following the recommended procedures and protocols by the World Health Organisation, United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and local authorities.

“Hyatt hotels continue to welcome business and leisure travellers with our established operational excellence and commitment to care.”

Safety

In an email to all World of Hyatt members, Hoplamazian added the company was doing everything in its power to minimise the spread of coronavirus within its hotels.

Comprehensive Covid-19 guidance is in place at Hyatt hotels globally, detailing how to protect against transmission of the virus (including implementing hand sanitizer stations and frequent cleaning of high-touch areas), and procedures in case there is a suspected or confirmed case among guests or colleagues

Cross-functional, global response teams, including infectious diseases and occupational health experts, are also on hand to provide guidance to hotels and help address specific needs when needed.


Hyatt chief executive Mark Hoplamazian has sought to calm guests’ fears over travelling

Hoplamazian also called for respect among travellers in response to the outbreak after a number of attacks on Chinese guests.

He explained: “While travel – our shared passion – may temporarily be challenged, at Hyatt we believe in its enduring power to connect us and move us closer to our vision: a world of understanding and care.

“At all times, we remain grounded in our purpose and focused on our values of inclusion and respect.

“Covid-19 does not distinguish between nationality, race or geographic origin, and Hyatt’s steadfast commitment to inclusion and care guides our actions, at our properties and in our communities.”

More Information

Find more information on the Hyatt response to coronavirus here.

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Cruises

Cruise lines share extra measures taken to protect passengers from coronavirus

Cruise lines have shared the extra precautions they are taking to protect passengers from coronavirus outbreaks around the world.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the leading body in the cruise industry, has issued advice for its members on how to ensure that they are protecting passengers.

This includes denying boarding to anyone who, within 14 days prior to embarkation, has come into contact or helped care for anyone suspected or diagnosed as having coronavirus.

Passengers who have travelled from, visited or transited via airports in the likes of South Korea, Iran, China and Italy within 14 days will also be denied boarding.

Other measures being implemented include enhanced pre-boarding screenings (including temperature screenings at embarkation for every person boarding), and illness screenings for passengers who visited specific destinations within the 14-day period.

As well as implementing CLIA's guidelines, a number of cruise lines are also introducing their own extra measures.

We take a look at what some individual cruise lines are doing to help protect their customers.

If you have a cruise booked in the near future and are concerned about coronavirus, a number of cruise lines are letting passengers change or cancel sailings for free .

When you travel, make sure to follow the World Health Organisation's (WHO) advice on how to protect yourself from the virus.

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean has revealed it will deny boarding for anyone who, 15 days prior to boarding, has been around someone suspected with or diagnosed as having coronavirus, while also denying boarding to anyone who has travelled to, from, or through mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, South Korea, and Italy.


  • Coronavirus quarantine – your rights to compensation if you get stuck abroad

  • Coronavirus: Countries without cases currently including Cyprus and Turkey

The cruise line will also be carrying out mandatory, specialised health screenings.

It explained in a statement on its website that the rules would apply to anyone boarding their ships, be that guests or crew.

It added: "We have rigorous medical protocols in place to help passengers and crew members who feel unwell while sailing. Our protocols include professional medical treatment; quarantine of unwell individuals from the general ship population; and intensified ship cleaning, air filtration, and sanitization procedures."

The company confirmed that guests who are denied boarding because of these restrictions will receive full refunds.

P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises is conducting pre-boarding screenings "for all guests, crew and visitors in all embarkation ports with further medical evaluation if necessary".

It will deny boarding to anyone who has, within 14 days before embarkation, come into close contact with anyone suspected of having or diagnosed with coronavirus.

Ships will be disinfected with "regular stringent cleaning and sanitation protocols", while any guestsor crew who visit the onboard Medical Centre with symptoms of any respiratory illness will be risk assessed for coronavirus, and any action taken as necessary.

The cruise line has also issued advice for its passengers from tips to washing hands, to handy advice such as checking your mobile phone plan to ensure it works at the various destinations, and advice around travel insurance.

Emerald Waterways

Scenic, the group to which Emerald Waterways belongs, has suspended any crew movements "from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Iran and and any municipality in Italy subject to lockdown (quarantine) measures by the Italian Government".

The cruise group is denying boarding to anyone who has travelled from/through those same regions within 14 days prior to embarkation.

You can also find out more on Emerald Waterways' coronavirus updates .

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises is conducting 'rigorous pre-embarkation illness screening' which includes anyone who has travelled to, from or through mainland China, Hong Kong, Iran, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Macau and Italy.

The cruise line will deny boarding to anyone with signs or symptoms of illness (such as a fever or coughing), or anyone who, within 14 days of embarkation, has had close contact with or cared for someone suspected to have/diagnosed with coronavirus.

Meanwhile, there are extra precautions being taken to keep the ship free from infections, including using thermal cameras throughout the cruise at ports of call, to check guests and crew for fever symptoms.

The cruise line says that there also has been and will continue to be "an elevated deep-sanitation on every ship in our entire fleet".

In a statement on its coronavirus updates page the company added: "There is increased hand-washing for guests and crew, alcohol-based hand-sanitizers across the ship, increased continuous disinfection of public areas – especially frequently touched areas such as handrails, elevator buttons, door handles and reception desks."

The cruise line says that it's 'confident' that "we are doing everything we can to minimise risk of infection to our guests or crew".

The company is contacting all guests before they board to find out if, within the last 14 days prior to the cruise, they have contacted countries considered high risk, or if they are displaying symptoms, in which case they will be denied boarding.

Passengers who can embark will have their temperatures checked, and any who display symptoms will not be permitted on board.

In a statement it explained: "We are also operating these temperature checks at all turn-around ports. If a guest is displaying symptoms at this stage, they will be seen by our on-board Doctor who will assess their symptoms and decide whether the guest is fit to continue to travel."

As for its ships, Fred. Olsen is operating a "raised level of sanitsation across its fleet" as a precautionary measure.

The cruise line has also created a dedicated coronavirus FAQs page for passengers.

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Cruises

Royal Caribbean Comments on Liquidity Actions and 2020 Outlook

WHY IT RATES: Royal Caribbean Cruises is increasing liquidity in order to compensate for the detrimental effects of the coronavirus scare and has retracted its previously-released 2020 guidance. — Laurie Baratti, TravelPulse Associate Writer

Royal Caribbean Cruises today announced that, due to the spread and recent developments related to the COVID-19 outbreak, the company has increased its revolving credit capacity by $550 million, bolstering the company’s liquidity.

The company is pursuing additional actions to improve its liquidity by reducing capital expenditures, operating expenses and taking other actions to improve liquidity by at least a further $1.7 billion in 2020. The company is also planning reductions to the 2021 capital expenditures and operating expenses.

The company had previously communicated that its 2020 guidance did not include the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Given the recent government actions and the heightened impact and uncertainty of changes in the magnitude, duration and geographic reach of COVID-19, the company is withdrawing its first quarter and full-year 2020 guidance.

“These are extraordinary times and we are taking these steps to manage the company prudently and conservatively,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO. “I am proud of the work our teams are doing to address this unprecedented situation.”

For more information, visit rclcorporate.com.

SOURCE: Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. press release.

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Cruises

Executive testifies coronavirus threat to travel agencies

Testifying before the House Committee on Small Business on Tuesday
about the impact of Covid-19 coronavirus on travel retailers, agency executive
Jay Ellenby called “the past few weeks among the most difficult our agency has
faced since 9/11.”

Ellenby, president of Safe Harbors Business Travel in Maryland
and a former ASTA board chairman, said his agency’s sales are down 20% from a
year ago and that international travel has fallen 37%.

“We expect March to be devastating and are preparing for a 50%
year-over-year decline,” Ellenby said. 

He said Safe Harbors laid off a “significant” number of
travel agents on Monday. Corporate travel is way down and convention travel has
dried up in March and April, as concerns about spreading coronavirus have
companies and organizations canceling large events.

“We do not see any kind of light at the end of the tunnel
when it comes to the corporate side,” he said.

Regarding leisure travel, Ellenby said it would be difficult
for many agencies to remain in business with cruise sales way down, and that the
State Department’s advisory to U.S. citizens to avoid cruising has been
damaging.

Committee chair Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) asked Ellenby how
long travel agencies can survive in the current business environment.

“There are many agencies right now that are shuttering their
doors as we speak,” he said, “and some of them will be closed within 3 to 6
months.”

Ellenby shared statistics from an ASTA member survey: 22% reported a risk of going out of business in three months
and 25% have that same concern in the next six months. 

Agencies with a number of employees will likely have to
consider layoffs as Safe Harbors did, Ellenby said. But many agencies consist
of a single person or just a few employees.

Ellenby suggested that Congress and the Trump administration
provide access to Small Business Administration loans. He urged the government
to consider additional funding for SBA loans and easing the requirements for
collateral needed to secure one. Agencies are service businesses without access
to large amounts of collateral, he said, recalling that after 9/11 agents were
putting their homes up as collateral to secure loans.

Ellenby told the committee that travel agencies sell the
majority of airline tickets in the country and are the primary distributor of
cruises and tours. Ninety-eight percent of agencies meet the Small Business
Administration’s definition of a small business, and two-thirds are owned by
women.

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Cruises

Coronavirus could hurt travel as bad as 9 11 did

The Covid-19 impact on travel to Asia has been devastating,
and the fallout for U.S. tourism will be worse than SARS and possibly as bad as
after 9/11, according to a Tourism Economics report.

Early indicators of the impacts on Asia are “disastrous,”
the group said, noting overnight arrivals to Hong Kong have fallen more than
90% and Thailand arrivals are down 70%. 

The virus has also resulted in two-thirds of airline capacity
to and from China being canceled. 

Global international travel is expected to contract for the
year, even if the world avoids a recession.

Basing its projections on recovery model of 5 to 6 months,
Tourism Economics said the impact to the travel industry in the U.S. will be
worse than the SARS coronavirus outbreak in 2003, when international visits
fell 5.4%.

“It’s not implausible that international declines will be
closer to what we experienced in 2001, when visits to the U.S. fell 8.4%,” the
group said. “Our current models expect an international visitor loss of 7.6%,
concentrated in the second and third quarters of the year. In volume terms,
this represents a decline of 6 million visitors and $19 billion in spending
this year.

“Event cancellations will hurt larger cities with major
international conventions. Groups represent about 24% of hotel room demand and
we are receiving a steady flow of large-event cancellation announcements.
Certainly, a large share of events will continue as planned but attendance may
falter.”

While an increase in domestic travel could soften the blow, Tourism
Economics said the 2004 recovery was accompanied by robust U.S. economic growth
over 3%.

“The current economic situation, both in the U.S. and
globally, is more tepid and at risk due to the ongoing effect of Covid-19 on
consumer confidence, corporate investment and trade, Tourism Economics said.

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Cruises

Fall in Love With the European Barging Experience

European barging is ideal for travelers looking for new ways to explore traditional destinations in Europe, and it’s growing in popularity with a variety of people discovering the flexibility with itineraries and the convenience of this method of travel.

TravelPulse recently spoke to John Wood-Dow, director of European Waterways, to discuss the unique attributes this type of travel gives travelers.

European Waterways currently has a fleet of 17 barges that travel throughout Europe, including France, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Scotland, England and Ireland.

One of the best qualities of barging is that it provides travelers with so much flexibility and this type of cruising is the ultimate small ship experience, with between 8 and 12 passengers on each ship.

“It is cruising for non-cruisers,” said Wood-Dow. “Passengers can always get off the boat and walk. The general dynamics of barging is that it appeals to an older market with a bit more of a budget. This market is growing as they have more money and time.”

One of the biggest advantages of barging is the flexibility, as well as the in-depth experiences passengers have in each destination. Cruises run on set itineraries but, for those traveling in groups, itineraries can be completely customized.

“It’s really easy to put together a small boat of people 8-12, and once you have booked the whole barge, the itinerary is even more flexible,” said Wood-Dow.

That doesn’t mean that passengers can’t select a set itinerary and join others onboard. Passengers can choose a region that they would like to explore and book a scheduled sailing such as the Classic Cruise—Southern Burgundy, which explores some of the world’s finest wineries on one of the prettiest canals in France.

Guests on this sailing are met in Paris and board the barge for their journey in Fleurey-sur-Ouche and sailing to Escommes. Guests enjoy private winery tours, shopping at local produce markets, bicycle rides, strolls along the canal and tours of chateaus and more.

The barge is like a home away from home and itineraries are all-inclusive.

“Everything is included, we pick you up from the city,” said Wood-Dow. “We transfer you. All food all wine everything is included along with the excursions and the only thing that’s not is gratuity.”

Passengers have comfortable accommodations in en suite staterooms or suites and chef-crafted gourmet meals, fine wines and an open bar are all included as are daily excursions, which include places of interest, private wine tastings and more. Guests also have access to bicycles and on-deck spa pools on most barges.

Guests can also choose themed itineraries as well that include golf trips, culinary-focused journeys, wine sailings and more. And, while barging continues to grow for couples and small groups, families are also discovering this unique opportunity.

“[Barging] is informal and itineraries and activities can adapt to the interest of the different generations,” said Wood-Dow. “That’s what people like and that’s what is harder to do on a bigger ship where it’s not your private space.”

Families and multigenerational groups have leeway to plan their own itinerary if they so desire.

“We let the group know about a variety of activities and we will put a program together,” said Wood-Dow. “If you charter the whole boat, it’s your own space and you can do whatever you want.”

Families don’t have to book the entire barge to sail with European Waterways. On a regularly scheduled sailing, the cruise line welcomes children 12 and up.

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Cruises

Brittany Ferries completes Condor acquisition

Brittany Ferries has become part-owner of Condor Ferries.

The deal, announced last year, had been subject to scrutiny by competition authorities.

But following the green light at the end of January, and work to complete the transition in February, the sale has now been finalised.

“This is excellent news for Brittany Ferries, our new partners and for Condor Ferries,” said Christophe Mathieu, chief executive Brittany Ferries.

“We are committed to working closely in the months and years to come to ensure the best level of service to customers and support to our friends and colleagues in the Channel Islands.

“This will be business as usual for Condor, but within a new ownership structure.”

Brittany Ferries is the minority shareholder in the company.

Last November, Columbia Threadneedle European Sustainable Infrastructure Fund and Brittany Ferries reached an agreement with Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets for the acquisition of 100 per cent of Condor Ferries

Condor Ferries is an operator of lifeline freight and passenger ferry services.

Each year, Condor Ferries carries approximately one million passengers, 200,000 passenger vehicles, and over 900,000 freight lane meters between Guernsey, Jersey, the United Kingdom, and the Port of St Malo in France.

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Cruises

Mike Pence meeting with cruise and airline CEOs on coronavirus

Vice President Mike Pence will meet with cruise line and
airline CEOs on Saturday to discuss the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. 

“We welcome the partnership with industry in this country as
we work out the president’s top priority, which is the health and safety and
wellbeing of the American people,” Pence said in a White House briefing.

Pence is in charge of the response to coronavirus.

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