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FCO advises against cruise ship holidays, invalidating your travel insurance

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The Foreign & Commonwealth Office issued a surprise warning against cruise holidays today, advising against trips.

You can read the advisory notice here.

There isn’t much to it.  This is the entire text:

“The Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against cruise ship travel at this time. This is due to the ongoing pandemic and is based on medical advice from Public Health England.

The government will continue to review its cruise ship travel advice based on the latest medical advice.  If you have future cruise travel plans, you should speak to your travel operator, or the travel company you booked with, for further advice.  The Foreign & Commonwealth Office continues to support the Department for Transport’s work with industry for the resumption of international cruise travel.”

(The reasons for mentioning this is that many cruise travellers are keen collectors of frequent flyer miles.  Miles are one of the few ways of obtaining the cheap one-way flights required to join and leave cruises which are not circular.)

Allue of the Seas cruise ship

It isn’t clear why the guidance has been published at this stage in the coronavirus pandemic or what the advice from Public Health England was.  The FCO had said in March that anyone over 70 or with underlying health conditions should avoid cruises, but this new guidance covers all UK residents, all destinations and all ship types.

The guidance is likely to have a devastating impact on what is left of the UK cruising industry, since the existance of such FCO warnings will usually invalidate any travel insurance you hold.  The industry was slowly starting to return to life, starting with some European river cruise operators.

A statement from Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said:

“The FCO’s advice against cruise ship travel will lead to most upcoming cruises being cancelled or postponed.  Most cruise holiday customers should be legally entitled to a cash refund within 14 days under the package travel regulations, but as we’ve seen across the travel industry recently, operators facing a surge in refund claims are often taking longer to return customers’ money to them. If refunds will be delayed, cruise companies must urgently let customers know and give a clear timetable for when money will be returned.  The FCO should also extend its warning to include a definitive date, to give operators and customers clarity over when it will be safe to rebook.”

Comments (35)

  • TimM says:

    Cruise ships have long been breading grounds for all sorts of lurgy. They are worse than hotels because a significant proportion of accommodation does not even have an opening window and relies solely upon piped ventilation – shared with other cabins. The older the ship, generally the higher proportion of these, but even in the latest mega ‘block of flats’ cruise ships there is a significant proportion of ‘ocean view’ (window) cabins nearer the sea line and and also inside cabins on almost every deck. Under current circumstances all these would have to be put out of use making the economics of a cruise ship as challenging as a low cost airline with social distancing.

    The FCO advice does not affect me because the cruise line I booked with (Pullmantur) for March has already gone bust and the ship I was due to sail on (Horizon) has been stripped and sold as scrap. Still, I have not yet been told the cruise is cancelled 🙂 I await an offer from whatever arises, if anything, from their ashes.

    • Colin MacKinnon says:

      Shame about Pullmantur – had a great week on them around the Greek islands a couple of years ago.

      Said to the wife. just think of it as a big ferry and you’ll not be disappointed. But crew were great and we had a ball.

  • Kris Schimmel says:

    Hmmm, got a Disney cruise booked for Easter. I’ve only paid the deposit. Do you think Amex will refund this or am I out of luck?

  • ADS says:

    Which Travel: “The FCO should also extend its warning to include a definitive date, to give operators and customers clarity over when it will be safe to rebook.”

    how on earth can any Health authority or travel advice give a date when we don’t know how long it will take to suppress the virus ?

    Rob: “The guidance is likely to have a devastating impact on what is left of the UK cruising industry”

    you’ve got to wonder if some industries just won’t be viable in a covid world