Cruise Shutdown Questions #1: What To Do About Cruise Bookings And Plans?

With everything going on
in cruising at the moment, and the cruising shutdown, I’ve decided I’m not going to post any regular cruising content
until the shutdown ends and life starts to come back to normal. However, I’m getting lots
and lots of questions from people, asking around
what should they be doing about their bookings, future bookings, and a whole bunch of questions, which I’ve been happy to answer and very willing to answer. And I’ve been doing that so far by email. But I thought, what might be helpful, is to share the thoughts that I have and the answers to some of those questions that I’m getting, and post
those out here for people that might be also interested. So in this very first
video, I wanted to address the question I’m getting asked the most. And it’s really around, how
soon can we go back cruising? And what specifically should they be doing around their bookings
for April, May, June, later in the year, as
they start to be paying, which is coming up now, final deposits. And also should they be
booking to take advantage of some of the deals and offers that are in the offering at the moment. I have lots of cruise
bookings for April, May, June, and in fact, for the rest of the year, so this is a very lively shift for me and also some of the things
that I’ve been thinking about. So let’s take a look at
where we are at the moment very briefly before I answer that, so I thought it might be good to recap. First of all, as we know,
cruising is shutdown. The initial period that most
cruise lines are shutdown is to around about the middle of April. Couple of others have gone
even further than that. So you’ve got Princess
already having announced at the start, they were going
through to May, for example. MSC to the end of April. You’ve also got Virgin
Voyages that are now only going to launch
right at the end of July. Secondly, most of the
airlines have closed down operations largely and fleets grounded right through into May at least. Quite along way into May. Thirdly of course,
governments are asking people to come home if they’re residents, they’re not letting non-residents in. And a lot of borders are being closed. Travel insurance of course,
is largely locked down, it’s very hard to get. And of course, ports all around
the world have closed down. So that’s kind of where we
are at this particular time. As we look ahead, I think
that this cruising shutdown will of course, last longer than April for a whole bunch of reasons. First of all, because as we can see, the lockdown and the
things that are happening in terms of movement of
people, getting around, staying at home, the
importance of staying at home, self-isolation and lockdowns, is something that governments
have been really clear is going to carry on for a period of time. So I think it’s very
unlikely that by April people are going to be
moving freely again. Also airlines are not going to be around to get you to cruises in
April and May probably. You’re not going to be able
to get travel insurance. Government advisories
going to stay in place for their residents to stay. They’re not going to let foreigners. And also, really important of course, crew, particularly if they
start moving back home off the ships that are there, it’s going to be very
difficult to get the crew back and manning ships. Another reason that the shutdown probably won’t be coming back that early, is quite a few regions are closed. So if you take a look,
Canada, for example, had already announced that all their ports were closed to ships over 500 passengers until the end of June. New Zealand was the same. Australia was putting restrictions in, most of the ports in Asia were closed, with no plans to reopen. And ports are basically closed, and I think we’re going
to see increasingly that the timeline for ports opening is going to be more like the Canadian and New Zealand timeline, then perhaps everybody else is hoping, which will be much quicker. Also the ships as we head into April, May, normally the cruising season
moves out of the Caribbean which is where the bulk
of the ships actually are, and moves to the Mediterranean, that’s really where the cruising season. And it’s going to be
very difficult I think, to be moving ships around
when you can’t restart and guarantee that you can
actually get up and running in the Mediterranean and Europe, which of course is facing
many many challenges. Another absolutely critical thing is in the whole run up to this shutdown and everything that was
going on in the world, there was a strong
advice for people over 70 not to go cruising. And I don’t think there’s any sign that that’s going to
be lifted anytime soon. So certainly, if you’re over 70 or heading towards the age of 70, cruise lines were already asking that you get medical certificates saying that it was okay for you to travel. So certainly I think there’s
going to be a big lockdown around people over 70 or close
to the age of 70 cruising. So there’s a whole bunch
of reasons that I think, actually we’re going to see
that actually the lockdown is going to last much
longer than we think. So let’s get really specifically, if you have a booking
in April, May or June, what should you do? And I have bookings for
all of those three months. What I’m doing is just
sitting tight and waiting, we have no idea what’s going
to happen with the shutdown, everything is up in the
air, it’s very uncertain. But what we do know is
that the cruise lines are absolutely inundated
with people trying to chop and change and cancel. Cruise lines are offering up to 48 hours before you embark, to cancel. Airlines as well are
offering for those flights they haven’t cancelled, you can cancel and move at really short notice. So what I’m actually doing,
is I’m not doing anything about my bookings in April and May, I’m just letting them sit there and wait to see what happens. It also means that I’m not
putting more stress and strain on the cruise lines which
are madly trying to solve the problems they’ve
got and really focusing on cruises as they come up. So basically, I’m just holding those and waiting to see what happens. Personally, I’m pretty convinced I will not be cruising in April. I also think May is
looking really unlikely. But at this stage, I’m
just waiting and seeing and holding on, and will make decisions much closer to the time,
because I am able to, because I do have the flexibility. And also the cruise lines
and airlines which connect me to all of those, are basically saying you can cancel at short notice. So I would say, just
hold back and just wait, and let things calm down. As it gets closer to your
cruise make a decision. Perhaps, set a date. So I’ve set myself a date, sort of a week to 10 days
before each of those, where I will make a decision. Of course, if you’re over the age of 70 or you do see that you’ve
got financial concerns, I would go in and cancel those right now just to give you the reassurance
that that’s happening and that’s all underway. I’ve had a lot of emails and
a lot of questions around people who are about to
pay their final deposit. Normally you’d pay 90 days before a cruise your last slug of money. And historically, that has
not been really refundable, you’ve often loss 75 to 100% of that. So people are saying, what should I do? And actually, one of the big
concerns that people have, and have asked me a lot is, should I pay because I’m concerned with everything going on,
that these cruise lines are going to go bust, they’re
going to go out of service? Personally, I’m less concerned
about the bankruptcy thing and I’ll tell you why. If you look at the
three biggest companies, you’ve got Carnival Corporation, which of course control
and own many of the brands, from Holland America, Princess,
AIDA, Carnival, of course, P&O, P&O Australia, just loads
and loads of cruise lines. You’ve got Royal Caribbean, which of course is Royal Caribbean, it’s got Silversea, it’s got Celebrity, it’s got Azamara. Then you’ve got the Norwegian Cruise Line, which of course has Norwegian,
Oceania, Regent Seven Seas. These are very big, large corporation. And in fact, Carnival is
the biggest travel company, I believe, in the world, if you look at what it’s
worth and its assets. So it’s not only the
biggest cruise company, it’s the biggest travel company. These are vast complicated big businesses and I believe that not only do
they have the resources there and will have the resources. But I think it’s very
unlikely that governments and institutions are going to want or let these companies go bust, because the amount of people they employ, the value to the economy is so vast. I think a way will be
found if they do get tight to keep those going. Now bear in mind, that these companies have massive big ships,
they have huge big assets, which of course, they
can have as collateral up against loans, government
loans or whatever. So that’s not my concern. I think, take a look at your
company that you’re booked with and see if they’re one of
those really big corporations. Now I do have a whole video which I did a couple of months
ago around who owns what. So that video may be particularly helpful if you’re not sure. If you’re cruising on one of
the smaller independent lines that are independently owned, you may want to be more cautious, because of course they
don’t necessarily have the same degree of resources, and you may want to take a
slightly more cautious approach. But if you’re one of the big corporations, personally, I am pretty
comfortable and relaxed about that. Of course, again, you have
to make up your own mind, this is just what I’m doing
and what my perception is. So if you’ve got a final balance to pay and you’re really looking at cruises which are heading out
June, July, August time, I think probably by then we
may be back to more normality, cruises may be going, so you
may feel more comfortable again because you can cancel
at really short notice, and it looks like also flights you can cancel at short notice. Again, the proviso, before
you pay those big deposits, does it make financial
sense and also time sense to then be going away on
vacation, really really important. And again, I think if you’re over 70, I would also again,
consider putting cruising on pausing until it all
comes back to normal and that advice gets removed. And a lot of people have contacted me, they’ve got cruises towards
the end of the year, not sure what to do. My advice would be the same. The other thing I get asked a lot is, should I book cruises now for this year with all these deals going? Personally, I’m not sure
that’s a great idea. Now, I don’t want upset the
people in the travel industry, because of course they’re desperate, they’re trying to get back to normal, trying to make a living. But what I would say is,
it’s still too uncertain, we really don’t know what’s happening at this stage and time. So I would actually hold back, particularly because travel insurance could be a real challenge. It’s quite hard to get travel insurance at this period of time, and
there’s lots of restrictions now about what is does and doesn’t cover. So I would almost hold back, I
would spend some time perhaps looking at the cruises you want to go on. Perhaps, agree the ones you want to go on, and as things calm down and settle, book. However, if you do want to
really support the industry and show support, what
about looking at next year. When I was on a cruise that just happened as the shutdown was coming in place, the future cruise people were really busy, but they were busy with
people booking for next year. Because the view was actually,
things would calm down, we probably got on top of the situation, things will be back to normal,
I feel much more comfortable, the deposits aren’t that
large at this point of time, there’s still a degree of flexibility. So if you do want to make
some sort of commitment. Also give yourself something
to look forward to, why not actually look at
the deals for next year. Lock those in now while you can. Pencil in perhaps a couple
for this year and reassess. I guess the key thing that
I’m saying to most people is obviously, you’ve
got to make the decision based on yourself, your
financial situation, your age, where you are, and when you believe things will return to normal. I think we’re going to see
the lockdown last much longer than it is currently reflected. So those are my thoughts
about some of the questions I’ve got, if you have any other questions please do send those to me,
I will try and answer them in forthcoming episodes and editions. Until then, please stay
safe, look after yourself and be very cautious,
and I guess we can dream when we’re back to normal
cruising and normal cruising tips.

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