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The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made the decision to further extend its “no-sail” ban on September 30. Though many US cruise lines had remained hopeful that cruises could begin to resume from October, the new ban serves as yet another blow to the struggling industry.
However, it also means holidaymakers are left with yet more cancelled plans.
In many cases, big-name cruise lines are offering guests the opportunity to rebook onto a later cruise, accept a voucher for a future holiday or claim a full refund.
However, one legal expert has issued some important advice for holidaymakers who may find themselves struggling to get their hands on their much-needed cash.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, David Bott, Senior Partner at Bott and Co explained that cruise lines have a legal obligation to pay out to customers.
“We have much sympathy for cruise operators given the extended ban, however for those who’s travel plans are to be affected by this, the law is clear – the passenger is entitled to a monetary refund within 14 days of the cruise being cancelled, or a free replacement at a later date (subject to availability),” he explained.
“Both are a choice for the passengers to make and not the operator.”
Cruise lines citing the option for a refund or future cruise exchange include Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruises.
Alas, in some cases, would-be cruise guests may find themselves faced with a battle.
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“If you’ve spent money on a cruise holiday which has not gone ahead or is no longer going ahead and are struggling to get a refund even after phoning the cruise provider and requesting your money back, we recommend that travellers write a ‘Letter before Action’ to the relevant Tour Operator, giving them 14 days to provide the refund with the threat that Court Proceedings will be issued should they fail,” advised Mr Bott.
“If the tour operator is trying to convince you to change the date of your cruise or accept a voucher but you want a refund, you should make this clear to the Tour Operator.
“Should the Tour Operator continue to pressure you to accept alternatives, we recommend the traveller writes a “Letter before Action” as outlined above.”
Cruises impacted by the new regulations include any which sail in US waters.
This includes cruises departing from ports in other countries.
The “no-sail” order means that cruise ships that can carry more than 250 passengers in US waters are suspended.
In line with the new CDC ban, any cruise lines planning to resume in October now face a longer wait.
Carnival Cruise has set out November 1 for its anticipated restart date, with the exception of Carnival Australia Cruises which are suspended until December 3.
Disney Cruise Line has similar cited dates throughout November for the restart of its Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy cruises.
Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean are planning to resume sailing on November 1.
The CDC said that their decision had been largely supported by the outbreak of cruise ships which have resumed in other countries.
Experts stated the initial decision to ban cruises was due to the fact that “cruise ship travel exacerbates the global spread of COVID-19.”
Following the extension, the CDC said: “Recent outbreaks on cruise ships overseas provide current evidence that cruise ship travel continues to transmit and amplify the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,—even when ships sail at reduced passenger capacities—and would likely spread the infection into US communities if passenger operations were to resume prematurely in the United States.”
The CDC also said that cruises “would likely spread the infection into US communities if passenger operations were to resume prematurely in the United States.”
The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) continues to advise against cruises.
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