Last Update 23rd November 2021
Dear Fellow Seafarers
We are providing regular updates on this page for those of you concerned about the Coronavirus situation and the possible impact on your holiday.
Quarantine Restrictions Relaxed From July 19th
The latest UK Government update specifies that quarantine requirements and pre-flight testing are abolished when returning from all our cruise destinations. This applies for vaccinated travellers as well as those who have not been vaccinated.
Looking back to last summer, Meditteranean Island hopping cruises operated normally with weekly sailings since the end of May 2021 and we are pleased to advise that all sailings operated without a single case of Covid 19 arising, demonstrating in practice that the precautions and protective measures in place were effective, whilst our guest and some prominent journalists who joined our cruises reported their satisfaction with these measures and that they had no real impact on the enjoyment of their holiday. With the majority of guests and all crew being vaccinated for 2021and with the tried and tested protocols in place, we invite you to join us once again this winter and for summer 2022 on one of our unique yacht cruises.
Foreign Office Advice
It is clarified that the specific previous foreign office advice against cruises (now abolished) did not apply to yachting holidays and it should be noted that these holidays are very different to cruise ship holidays, not only due to the size of the vessel and the smaller number of guests and crew on board, the largely ‘al fresco’ onboard experience and very different facilities and service compared to large cruise ships, but also because the island hopping trips we promote generally stay within a single country (mainly Greece, Croatia and Italy in Summer 2022 and the Seychelles year-round) and do not generally cross international borders. From July 19th 2021 we note that there is no longer any advice against cruising from the |UK Government.
Long Haul Travel
With the exception of the Seychelles and the Caribbean from Christmas 2021, all other long-haul departures are currently still suspended, though we can now confirm that our cruises in the other long-haul destinations we feature will resume in November 2022. We are contacting all those guests whose holiday has been affected individually to discuss the various alternatives on offer. In most cases, we are encouraging our guests to re-book at a later date in 2022 or to switch to the Seychelles which will be running all year, all with no cancellation penalties or change fees, though it is noted that your flights or cruise may be more expensive according to the new date chosen.
The Mega Yacht island-hopping voyages Variety Cruises will re-start their first departure in the Seychelles at Christmas 2021, whilst Star Clippers in the Caribbean has also resumed and these prgrammes will operate weekly as normal. Where travel is not possible due to programme suspension or restrictions we will contact you individually to advise you of your options, whether that be to transfer your booking to a different date or cruise, or tok request a fulolo fefund.
Testing Requirements & Conditions Summary For 2021/2
Most destinations require the completion of pre departure passenger information locator form (PLF) before travel. This includes the UK prior to your return. Those that have already had the vaccine having completed both jabs at least 14 days before travel (plus the booster where applicable), will either need to obtain a vaccination certificate from the NHS, or prove their vaccination status through the NHS app, which you will need to show at the airport on either a phone or tablet, as this will allow you to avoid any requirment for pre-departure testing in certain destinations. It also allows you to use certain indoor facilities that may be barred for the unvaccinated unless they submit a test result. It is noted that all passengers must have a rapid flow test within 48 hours of their return to the UK, regardless of vaccination status and this test needs to have been booked in advance of your return to the UK.
Whilst we will endeavour to keep this page updated, you should check the latest information on the regulations for travel to your intended sectination as well as any testing requirements , by visiting the www.gov.uk website.
We have always been flexible at Seafarer, but should you be unable to travel due to official restrictions being unexpectedly re-introduced, we will allow you to defer or re-schedule your booking at no cost. This will apply where either the UK authorities or those at the overseas destination restrict or advise against travel, or where they introduce a quarantine requirement for more than 24 hours upon arrival overseas.
The same applies if quarantine were to be required on return, where this is combined with negative foreign office advice for travel to the specific destination.
If you are unable to travel due to a positive PCR test within 72 hours of travel or being required to self-isolate, this is a risk for which you should be covered under your travel insurance. It is important to make sure you obtain travel insurance at the time of booking and it is noted that not all policies will cover you in such instances, though we have identified several reasonably-priced policies that do. See the Q & section below on this and should you need further advice, we can assist by pointing you in the right direction.
Full Responsibility Whilst You Are Overseas
As is always the case, as your tour operator we will provide assistance should there be any disruption whilst you are on holiday with us. We recommend you book the full package with us, since those booking a full package including flights will benefit from financial protection with ATOL cover for the entire package, whilst as you package tour operator, we will take full responsibility for your accommodation and repatriation travel arrangements in the event of any disruption whilst abroad.
We also note that should a PCR or rapid flow test be required before the return flight to the UK, we will provide assistance and facilitate this to ensure you can board your flight without problems. It is clarified that any required tests will be at your expense, though costs in places like Greece and Croatia are often considerably lower than those in the UK.
The Seafarer office is open as usual, though with some of our staff working from home and still able to answer calls thanks to our IT and telephone system set up.
We will update this page as more information becomes available.
If you wish to discuss your arrangements, please contact us, and we will happy to advise on the current situation and what we can do to help.
The Seafarer Team
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Holidays Booked For Winter 21/22 & Summer 2022
We operated island-hopping voyages in Greece and Croatia successfully in 2021 and are pleased to report that the season was completed with zero cases of Coronavirus, demonstrating the effectiveness of the enhanced hygiene and other protective measures in place. Furthermore, guests reported that they felt reassured by the measures in place and that these did not adversely affect the enjoyment of their holiday.
Given the pre-departure testing and other protective measures that have been introduced by the airline and travel industry, we are confident that the next season will also operate normally. However, in the event that exceptionally some disruption to departures occurs, we have proved from our track record this year, that we have the experience and appropriate policies in place to deal with such situations quickly and effectively.
What If My Holiday Is Affected?
Our commitment to a personal service doesn’t end with your booking – If there is any disruption to your arrangements pre-departure, we will do our best to offer you the maximum flexibility possible – this will vary from booking to booking, and our team will work to offer you the best option for your holiday and circumstances.
In the even of any disruption, those booking a full package with us including flights will benefit from ATOL cover for the entire package, whilst as a tour operator, we will take full responsibility to provide suitable accommodation and organise appropriate repatriation travel in the event of any flight cancellations or other disruption.
If your holiday in 2020 or 2021 had to be canceled or deferred due to COVID 19 related disruption and you have yet to rebook your trip, we recommend that you rebook as soon as possible to ensure you are not disappointed, since availability for winter and some summer sailings is already tight. If your holiday is scheduled to go ahead but you subsequently wish to defer, please note that you are likely to incur penalties if there are no official restrictions in place. If restrictions were to be re-introduced, deferring your holiday would usually be penalty-free (though there may be price differences on the new travel date chosen).
If your flight is booked through us and is canceled or changed, we will contact you and will do our utmost to secure suitable alternative arrangements. If you have booked your own flight and this is cancelled or changed, please get in touch and we will do our utmost to assist and work out alternative arrangements for you.
You Are Ill Or Self Isolating And Can’t Travel
If you can’t travel due to illness or restrictions, please get in touch and we’ll look at possible amendments to your holiday. Alternatively, if the holiday is still scheduled to go ahead, you may be able to claim on your travel insurance if the cancellation is for medical reasons.
What Is The Situation With Refunds
Given the very large number of holidays that had to be curtailed in 2020 and in 2021due to official restrictions during this unprecedented crisis, we encouraged guests to re-book for a later date or where this could not be decided, to accept a credit note which could be applied to a later booking. The credit note still benefits from financial protection under the ATOL and ABTA (where applicable) schemes and we thank the large number of guests who chose to re-book or defer for their cooperation and for staying with us. Since cover for credit notes yet to be applied to future travel has a limited duration, we recommend that you now seek to confirm your future travel arrangements
For those whose circumstances meant that they were no longer able to travel, refunds have been made and we continue to commit to doing so where this proves necessary. This may have taken some time given the large numbers involved though we are now up to date.
How We Are Keeping Your Money Safe
We would like to remind you our flight inclusive package holidays are ATOL protected. More information can be found on that ATOL website: https://www.caa.co.
How Is Seafarer Coping In These Circumstances
2021 was our 26th year and whilst it will certainly be a year to remember (as was 2020), the way we successfully weathered the crisis it is indicative of our long experience and our strength and resilience, given the many international crises we have had to deal with over the years.
We have a very experienced and dedicated team who have been working hard to keep our guests up to date and change holiday arrangements where required liaising with airlines and our various overseas suppliers and partners. This was often very difficult with long waits on the telephone often being required when calling suppliers such as airlines as well as fast-changing official restrictions and advice. We have been coping with all of this well and our guests generally find it easy to contact us either by telephone or email.
What Additional Precautions Are In Place For Holidays In 2021/2
With the normalisation of travel in summer 2021, whilst the virus is still active a PCR or rapid flow test will be required on day 2 after your return to the UK for each passenger and this will be at your expense. This needs to be pre booked before return travel. Shouod pre departure testing be re-introduced for the unvaccinated for any of our destinations we will advise you of this in advance. Additionally, guests and crew need to complete a health questionnaire prior to travel and the cruise operator will provide a complimentary rapid flow test before embarkation. On-board, the cruise operators have implemented an enhanced and comprehensive cleaning and sanitization regime on all vessels. They ensure regular testing of all crew members as well as daily temperature checks for crew and guests. It is also the case that this season, crew members have all been vaccinated. All this has proved to be effective on our cruises operated in 2020 and 2021, having been implemented successfully on all our affiliated vessels. The safety of guests and crew is a top priority for us and any holidays and cruises that do operate will be in line with the advice of the WHO, FCO, and the authorities in our host countries. For more detailed info on the type of precautions and protective measures in place on our sailings click here
Updated Foreign Office Travel Advice
With the latest normalisation announcements from the UK government in late August and September and the abolition of red list countries and colour coding of destinations terminated, quarantine for all returning travellers to the UK has been abolished. Given the current winter spike in COVID cases in certain European and other destinations, pre departure testing and other requirements could be re-introduced for the unvaccinated, so it is recommended you check the foreign office advice for travel to your chosen destination
What Is The Situation With Travel Insurance
Where there remains negative foreign office advice on travel to certain destinations, many travel insurance policies will not cover you if you travel there. Some will not cover you if you contract the virus or fail a PCR test before departure. However, we have identified several policies that will cover you to travel and also cover you if you contract the virus or fail a PCR test before you travel, with cover if you are unable to travel due to having to self-isolate in certain circumstances also. Notably, cover was normalised with nearly all insurers for our current destinations with the lifting of restrictions last summer.
We hope the above information was useful, but If you require any specific advice or want to discuss any of the above further, feel free to call us on 020 8324 3118. You can also email us at [email protected].